Over the course of my short career in Family Law, every once in a while I will run into an attorney or adversary who tends to be accommodating when he or she should be aggressive, and aggressive with regard to those issues wherein he or she should be more accommodating. More often than not, I chalk it up to an attorney or adversary’s miscalculation as to the optics of whatever stance he or she is taking. More often than not, that failure to think perceptionally and pick the proper battles leads to problems in the courtroom.
With regard to President Barack Obama, however, it seems as though his propensity toward fighting what he should fight and accommodating what he should accommodate comes not so much from a failure to understand the public’s perception of his action, but rather more from the disturbed worldview and all-consuming ego of a floundering former political Messiah.
Last week, of course, President Obama sent a three-page letter of apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai after American troops burned a collection of Korans used by detainees to send coded messages. The burning of the holy books set off violence across the war-ravaged country, culminating in the deaths of four American servicemen at the hands of Afghanis — including two soldiers murdered by a man in an Afghani Army uniform.
Just yesterday, the president’s own campaign website, my.barackobama.com, published a page with the heading “Demand The Truth,” in which Barack Obama–a sitting president of the United States–appealed to supporters to demand that conservative organization Americans For Prosperity, a group dedicated to the education of citizens about economic policy, disclose the names of all private donors to allay purported suspicion by Obama insiders that the grassroots element touted by AFP is exaggerated.
No, seriously. A sitting U.S. president did that. Look here — a screenshot:
Your eyes aren’t fooling you. The Obama For America site features a personal plea from the president calling out private citizens Charles and David Koch for daring to stand up against the president and his cohorts. The plea:
Americans for Prosperity, the special-interest front group run by the oil billionaire Koch brothers, is claiming that its donors are “tens of thousands” of folks “from all walks of life.”
We’re asking them to prove it by disclosing their donors to the public.
Demand the truth by adding your name.
Demand the truth? Demand that AFP release its donor list?
This, from the campaign that touts among its most prominent donors and fundraisers two American brothers of a Mexican casino tycoon who fled drug charges and fraud charges here in the United States and who is now seeking a pardon?
This, from the campaign that accepted donations from former New Jersey Governor and MF Global CEO Jon Corzine?
Thankfully, the president has either returns those donations or is planning to do so, but the fact remains that his administration has publicly named Americans who believe in smaller government “enemies,” and that his Department of Homeland Security issued a directive three years ago this month directing law enforcement to scrutinize returning veterans and ordinary Americans concerned with single-issue politics–read: abortion–as “rightwing extremists.” This is the administration and campaign that wants AFP to name donors?
Frankly, this latest political witch hunt and effort at intimidating conservatives is little different. An article from yesterday’s Washington Post shows that Obama campaign officials have long been skeptical–perhaps “a-skeered” might be more appropriate–of the Koch brothers’ and AFP’s insistence upon the extent and results of its grassroots effort:
President Obama’s re-election campaign is accusing the Koch brothers-funded conservative group Americans for Prosperity of faking its grassroots support.
The claim, in a new letter from campaign manager Jim Messina, is part of a growing back-and-forth between the Obama team and the billionaire Koch brothers.
“You argue that Americans for Prosperity is a grassroots organization of everyday citizens,” Messina wrote in the letter, an early copy which was obtained by The Fix. “But its emphasis on rolling back environmental protections and blocking a clean energy economy appears to be nothing more than an effort to promote the corporate interests of your employers and others who lavishly, and secretly, fund its operations.”
There are a number of problems with this.
First, progressive organizations such as Media Matters For America–funded in large part by leftist billionaire George Soros, by the way–have long made efforts to enable and maintain anonymous donations.
Second, I find it amazingly telling that Obama’s campaign honchos seem to have forgotten completely about the millions and millions of Americans who took to the streets over the past three years as part of the Tea Party movement, which exploded onto the scene approximately three years ago this month.
Finally, almost laughable is the idea that Obama campaign manager Jim Messina is using AFP’s “rolling back environmental protections and blocking a clean energy economy” as evidence that only a limited number of deep-pocketed donors really funded AFP and not a large number of everyday Americans, when these are issues that everyday Americans really do care about and agree with. Everyday Americans understand that placing more regulations on already burdened and uncertain employers is going to do little for, if not harm outright, an already precarious economy. It’s not that we’re against environmental protections and clean energy — we’re not. We just don’t believe in destroying everything with little consideration for unanticipated consequences.
Meanwhile, the president goes on “Nightline” on Monday and explains that his apology to Karzai is working:
President Obama said his formal apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the burning of Korans by U.S. troops last week has “calmed things down” after the incident sparked an outbreak of violence across the country.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Obama said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Bob Woodruff at the White House. “But my criteria in any decision I make, getting recommendations from folks who are actually on the ground, is what is going to best protect our folks and make sure that they can accomplish their mission.”
To quote a smart man who should be the GOP frontrunner: “Baloney.”
Never mind the ten years our bravest men and women have spent in that nation, working tirelessly to stabilize a region inherently incapable of being stabilized. Never mind the thousands of brave Americans who were killed or injured, leaving at home tens of thousands of wives without husbands, children without parents, parents without children. Never mind that Hamid Karzai remained silent with regard to the deaths of those four Americans at the hands of the very people so many Americans had sacrificed so much to protect and train. Never mind anything that reiterates the ignorance and misguided nature of the president’s apology; that much is obvious.
If Obama were truly interested in protecting “our folks” and ensuring that they accomplish their mission, he wouldn’t institute policies that require battlefield Mirandizing of combatants.
When Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to light his scrotum on fire and set off a bomb that would have brought down an airliner over Detroit back in December 2010, officials were only afforded less than an hour of interrogation before federal agents took over and extended to him rights reserved for Americans. While the Testicular Bomb Express’ story is unique in that he was captured in U.S. airspace, how can our brave men and women be expected to preserve lives on the battlefield if they are required to give captured combatants carte blanche to remain silent until told otherwise?
If Barack Obama were truly interested in protecting “our folks” on the ground and ensuring that they accomplish their mission, he would go to Leon Panetta and advocate for a rewrite and loosening of the Rules of Engagement.
Like in the Vietnam War, in which on-the-ground tactical decisions were made by lawmakers in Washington, D.C. rather than commanders on the ground, the rules of engagement have gotten entirely out of hand. In Vietnam, by directive of President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, American troops were strictly forbidden from firing on Viet Cong if they retreated to or were shooting from a temple. Now, in Afghanistan, not only are our fighting men and women forbidden from firing on jihadists in mosques, but the new Rules of Engagement enacted in July 2010 also require that U.S. troops are (a) not to fire unless fired upon, (b) not to return fire if civilians are present, and (c) not to fire on terrorists who they believe have just planted improvised explosive devices meant to kill them if they are walking away, and can only engage if they catch them in the act.
These rules of engagement have 19-year-old kids fearful of criminal prosecution back home and therefore thinking like lawyers when they should be thinking like soldiers and letting their excellent training and equipment get them home safely. I’m a lawyer — I don’t want the husband and father of the woman and kids next door thinking like a lawyer when he’s in a firefight. I don’t want him worried about prosecution during that split-second that decides whether he and the rest of his unit are going to live or die.
There are many ways that Barack Obama can protect our brave men and women overseas, but the Commander-in-Chief is not interested in protecting them. Or, more fairly, to the extent that Barack Obama is interested in protecting our troops, he is more interested in avoiding collateral damage to a Stone Age nation and keeping up appearances that the paper tiger that is the United States of America will unnecessarily extend its currency-wrapped olive branch to any nation willing to wait long enough or, better yet, to act aggressively for us. Right now, any nation interested in rock-solid self-preservation should quickly get themselves on our “enemies” list — the more hostile a nation is toward the United States of America, the safer it is from the United States of America. This, of course, is diametrically opposed to the status quo during the Bush administration, and inevitably why the current president believes the rest of the world disliked us so much.
At the end of the day, though, this is Barack Obama’s solipsism as its most incredible. Here is a man so self-consumed that he feels incapable of doing wrong, that he feels absolutely beyond challenge and reproach. Insofar as Afghanistan is concerned, just as it was his presidency that would stop the seas from rising, it is his apology that has singlehandedly quelled the violence, and for him it was well worth the acquiescence. Insofar as his own campaign is concerned, however, disregarding reality and engaging in conduct intended to undermine our electoral system and intimidate political foes is par for the course.
It’s The Obama Way: intimidate your political enemies while accommodating truly evil people hell-bent on taking innocent lives. He’s fighting the fight that he should ignore, and conceding the fight that he should be pursuing relentlessly. I’ve seen firsthand that approach implode in the courtroom, and here, this is a sitting president engaging voluntarily in the proxy intimidation of competing political donors. It’s not a winning moment for the Barack Obama, and news of this moment needs to be spread far and wide.