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03.01.2009 0

The Arrogance of Power

  • On: 03/05/2009 09:44:30
  • In: Economy
  • By Isaac MacMillen

    During the 2008 campaign, late-night comedian David Letterman poked fun at what some saw as then-Senator Obama’s arrogance, claiming that the candidate was so confident that he was “having his head measured for Mount Rushmore” and would be “voting for Nader.” He was joined in his jesting by Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who joked around as he showcased the Obama campaign’s infamous faux presidential seal. But since his election to the presidency, Mr. Obama’s megalomania has ceased to be a laughing matter.

    Just this past week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown flew nearly 4000 miles to meet the new President, barely 40 days into office. The cool reception he received was interpreted by many on the other side of the Atlantic as a ‘slap in the face’ to the leader of America’s most faithful ally.

    Ian Martin, writing for the British news outlet Telegraph, had the following words for the American leader: “We get the point, sunshine: we’re just one of many allies and you want fancy new friends….When it comes to men, munitions and commitment you’ll soon find out why it pays to at least treat the Brits with some manners.”

    Indeed, the disdain Mr. Obama has shown those who should be allies (after all, Mr. Brown shares his government-interventionist philosophy, albeit on a global scale), is rivaled only by the arrogance he displays towards the American people in forcing through his agenda and dismissing the opposition.

    The latest opposition target has been controversial—and popular—conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The radio host, who is listened to by over 20 million Americans daily, has been under fire from the administration, which has launched a coordinated attack to discredit the pundit as being the ‘partisan’ and ‘extreme’ spokesperson for the Republican Party—clearly in the hopes of hurting Congressional Republicans in particular, and the public’s opinion of the Republican Party in general.

    In this case, however, President Obama’s arrant attack may have backfired. The popular talk show host has fired back with a fury, reminding all and sundry why it’s never wise to pick a fight with the guy who owns the mike.

    But right-wing talk show hosts aren’t the only targets of the new Obama administration. Shortly after the inauguration, when mingling with the press, President Obama reacted negatively to a reporter who questioned why his appointment for Deputy Secretary of Defense, William J. Lynn III, was a former lobbyist. After taking an intimidating stance, President Obama rebuked the reporter for asking questions, grabbing his shoulder and ordering him to wait until a later press conference.

    Still, however, front and center in this display of hubris are the massive spending bills he has pushed in the midst of today’s economic downturn: The “stimulus,” omnibus spending bill, and his proposed budget. In monetary terms, that’s $789 billion followed by $400 billion followed by $3.6 trillion, with a projected $1.75 trillion deficit for his first fiscal year alone—and all this during a deepening recession.

    During the debate on the “stimulus,” President Obama met with House Republicans to try to iron out some differences and obtain some bipartisan support. When objections were raised to some of his fiscal policies, the President responded with a flip of the wrist and the words, “I won. So I think on that one, I trump you.”

    President Obama’s words to the Republicans, while true, display the negative effect of having extensive media apotheosization surrounding a campaign. After so much time hailed as a savior and hyped as a phenomenon by the mainstream media, it is little wonder that the Democratic President expects to rule the roost and reacts adversely to even the slightest provocation. NA daily, the megalomania grows.

    Indeed, one of his early acts was to announce that the Commerce Department would be taking greater control over the 2010 census—decreasing congressional oversight of the politically-sensitive process. When former Commerce Department nominee Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) decided to turn down the job, he cited both the bloated ‘stimulus’ and the President’s census plans as cause.

    The power-grabbing proposal raised such alarm among Republicans and Democrats that several House Democrats are floating a bill to give control of the census to a separate government agency, to reduce political prejudice from tarnishing the census.

    Even if Congress succeeds in keeping the census out of the hands of the Obama administration, that will not stop the President from rewarding his supporters where he can. The unions pulled for him during the campaign season—to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars—and now, President Obama wants to give them what they want in return—power.

    By supporting the highly controversial “card check” bill aimed at undermining the secret ballot (and misnamed the “Employee ‘Free Choice’ Act”), President Obama has shown disregard for the tens of millions of American workers who voluntarily choose to not be associated with a union. The bill would allow union bosses to intimidate workers into supporting unionization by forcing them to vote under the watchful eye of union organizers.

    Perhaps the good news is that, as the President’s ego has continued to expand, so has the opposition in the Nation’s Capitol. Even members of his own party are shocked at the audacity displayed by his spending habits. Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) led a group of 15 Democratic Senators (including one Independent who caucuses with the Democrats) who have expressed concern over the massive amounts of spending coming out in the administration’s first months.

    Senator Bayh argued against placing a higher priority on taxes than spending cuts. According to Politico, the Indiana Senator said: “The American people and businesses are tightening their belts. I think we need to show that the government can economize as well.” Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) also spoke up, stating that he had “major concerns about trying to raise taxes in the midst of a downturn of the economy.”

    Bayh’s 15 aren’t the only Democrats bucking their leader. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has also rounded up a group of Democrats, about 16 in number, who have urged caution in implementing sweeping climate change legislation. The group, which hails from industrial-heavy states, include senators who signed onto a letter opposing last year’s attempted cap-and-trade bill, which ultimately failed to pass.

    How President Obama reacts to these ‘insurrections’ remains to be seen. But his tolerance for dealing with dissent in the past appears to be low. Of course, as so often happens, the Senators may buckle to political pressure and support a slightly modified version of the President’s agenda. But if they stick to their stated principles and refuse to give ground, they could serve their nation well by helping keep in check a President who views his office with a chilly sense of superiority.

    President Obama’s free ride on the waves of popularity may be coming to an end soon. But if he does not readjust his perspective, he may risk alienating many allied nations—to say nothing of the American people—who he will be asking to bear the brunt of the policies he is planning to enact. And Gutzon Borglum can keep his chisel sheathed.

    Isaac MacMillen is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.

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