President Obama’s State of the Union address last night was notable for many reasons. First, it is not often that you hear such petulance from a sitting president
of the United States – complaining about not receiving applause from your political opponents is simply ridiculous. Second, it is not often that a president directly lectures the American people – it failed when Jimmy Carter tried it in his infamous “malaise” speech
, and it failed last night when President Obama told us that we needed to man up and follow him to glory. Comparing his agenda’s stall to Bull Run, Omaha Beach, Black Tuesday and Bloody Sunday, and calling on Americans to “again … answer history’s call” is foolish and self-aggrandizing.
What’s worse is telling us that he is the spiritual embodiment of our collective strength:
And what keeps me going – what keeps me fighting – is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism – that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people – lives on.” I couldn’t help but shake my head in amusement when he told us that “It lives on in the struggling small business owner … it lives on in the woman … it lives on in the 8-year-old boy in Louisiana … it lives on in all the Americans … [it] lives on in you, its people.
Quoting the Broadway version of The Lion King
is not profundity. It is silliness:
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I was waiting for him to keep going: “It lives on in you, John Hurt in Alien
! It lives on in you, Ellen Page in Juno
! It lives on in you, crocodile that ate Dustin Hoffman in Hook
! It lives on in you, whale that ate Jonah!” I’ll tell you what lived on in me – the pizza that almost came up on me while watching this tripe.
But all of that was nothing compared to his decision to openly rip the attending justices of the Supreme Court of the United States to their faces, in front of a joint session of Congress, and on national television:
Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that's why I'm urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.
During this speech, the cameras watched the stone-faced Justices. And one of them wasn’t able to hold back his ire: Justice Samuel Alito, who silently mouthed, “That’s not true.”
The media, predictably, has attacked Alito rather than Obama
, just as it attacked Joe Wilson rather than Obama when last year he blurted out: “You lie!” Obama lies, and the only thing the media sees is those who call him out.
This is unconscionable. What Obama said was a lie, even according to The New York Times
In his majority opinion in the case, Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, Justice Anthony Kennedy specifically wrote that the opinion did not address the question of foreign companies. “We need not reach the question of whether the government has a compelling interesting in preventing foreign individuals or associations from influencing our Nation’s political process,” he wrote. The court held that the First Amendment protected the right of American corporations to spend money on independent political commercials for or against candidates. Some analysts or observers have warned that the principle could open the door to foreign corporations as well. President Obama called for new legislation to prohibit foreign companies from taking advantage of the ruling to spend money to influence American elections. But he’s too late; Congress passed the Foreign Agents Registration Act in 1996, which already prohibits independent political commercials by foreign nationals or foreign companies.
When The New York Times
is calling out a socialist president for lying, you know he’s in trouble.
Now, it’s not unprecedented for presidents to attack the Supreme Court. That’s their prerogative, since they’re often in direct opposition to the Supreme Court. FDR attacked the Court on a regular basis, famously stating that the Supreme Court, in striking down some elements of his New Deal plan as unconstitutional, relegated “[the nation] to a horse and buggy definition of interstate commerce.” This actually backfired on FDR, who had to back down for a while. Andrew Jackson told Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall to shove it after Worcester v. Georgia
. Historians argue over whether these were his precise words, but they certainly capture his disdain for the Court: “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”
Even Lincoln ignored Supreme Court decisions, most famously in Ex parte Merryman; after that case, he told Congress, “Are all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?”
But these all differ from Obama’s current tactic. First, he attacked the members of the Supreme Court directly, knowing they would be unable to respond. This does not make him gutsy – it makes him a bully. Second, he totally and purposefully misread their decision in order to rabble-rouse. Even FDR did not do that.
The media is not doing its job here. Focusing on Justice Alito’s response – which was a perfectly proportionate and reasonable human reaction to being slandered before hundreds of millions of Americans – misses the point. It is reminiscent of the media attacks on Matt Drudge rather than Bill Clinton after the Lewinsky scandal broke, or the media attacks on James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles after the ACORN scandal. Whenever Democrats and liberals are put on the defensive, the media comes to their aid.
That is journalistic malpractice just as severe as President Obama’s continuing rhetorical malpractice.