…don’t you know he’s the devil
Hidin’ intentions of evil ….
All he’s good for is gettin’ in trouble
and shifting his share of the blame…
–Kris Kristofferson, The Silver Tongued Devil and I
I’m starting to tune out President Obama’s voice the way I tuned out previous presidents—the two Bushies, to name the most recent. It’s a defense mechanism. Having gone through a period of rage at Obama for his actions as President, I can’t afford to expend anymore emotion on him. And yet, my outrage towards this president is greater than what I felt for the others, being aggravated by disappointment and near-disbelief. I’ve never been able to comprehend people who say one thing and do the opposite. The word for that kind of person is hypocrite, which is precisely what Barack Obama has turned out to be.
My friend Tommy never votes, about which he and I have fought bitterly. He espouses the anarchist’s point-of-view: “Don’t vote, it only encourages them.” Larry, another friend of mine, said when Obama came on the scene, “I won’t vote for that guy—who the fuck is he?” Leftists have long cautioned us against being seduced by an apparently caring candidate who throws around jargon like transparency and extols the virtues of the working and middle classes. The theory behind this caution is that we’ll become enamored of the wrong person and believe all is well, no need to keep fighting the good (but exhausting) fight any longer. We can all go home and rest now, imagining we’re free to leave the running of the country to the paragon we just elected.
Well, guess what? Those theorists and anarchists were correct.
I wasn’t as gung-ho for Obama the candidate as some people were, but I admit that my heart leapt with hope listening to his rousing yet mellifluous speeches. He still talks a good line—which is why I call him The Silver-Tongued Devil—only now instead of leaping, my heart hardens and my head spins, and I wonder “How can he say that when he’s doing ——(fill in the blank)?” As I said, I have a hard time comprehending hypocrisy.
A few white people have accused voters of all races of backing Obama “just” for the color of his skin—and indeed, some voters did. But a vote for a black man as president isn’t a “just”—it’s a significant vote, and it was a significant reason to vote for Obama. I draw the line, however, with those who don’t care what he actually does in office, who think that breaking the White House ceiling is enough. Not only isn’t it enough, it’s downright dangerous: when I said the anarchists and leftists were correct, I meant that we were seduced by Obama’s silver tongue. Fortunately, many people see the disconnect between Obama’s words and his actions, and they’re making plenty of noise about it, from the Occupy movement to the Trayvon Martin travesty. (By the way, in saying he looked like Trayvon as a teenager Obama wasn’t saying, or doing, anything to alter the circumstances that led to Trayvon’s murder.)
By now you’re probably wondering, So what’s so bad about the guy? What exactly did he do? Ironically, I may have chosen the wrong time to let loose with this tirade, since the administration just announced a change in policy regarding the war on drugs that’s filled the country’s prisons to overflowing and created a whole new class of cons and ex-cons. Despite the possibility that he might do the right thing about this, I herewith present a list of five deeds—not words, but actions—initiated and carried out by the Obama administration. (And there are plenty more where these came from.)
New American magazine recently dubbed President Obama “The Kaiser of the Kill List.” Obama has overseen 80,000 missions and the death of thousands by drone strike—and he has no idea how many assassinations he has approved. During his first three years in office Obama ordered five times the number of drone attacks that George W. Bush ordered during his entire two terms. (Shocking, isn’t it?)
Several months ago the world learned, via Edward Snowden of the NSA, that the Obama administration’s idea of fun is browsing through Americans’ phone bills. No need to worry, however: nobody’s listening to what we actually say on the phone, they’re only following who’s calling who so as to connect the terrorist dots. Not only is the NSA spying on U.S. citizens, they’re also snooping into the emails and calls of other governments, including those of our allies.
#2 segues conveniently into #3, Obama’s attitude towards and treatment of those citizens, journalists, and others who inform the public what their government is up to, people known as whistleblowers. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks has been Ecuador’s houseguest for over a year, knowing that if he returns to the U.S. he’ll face punishment, possibly even torture. Edward Snowden was, ironically, granted asylum in Russia! for the same reason. These are the high-profile cases, but if you click on some of the links here you’ll find story after story about people who fear for their lives because they did their jobs, i.e., reported what this government is up to. The effect of these heavy investigations is to put a serious damper on journalists’ ability and willingness to keep reporting the truth.
The Obama administration has charged six government officials accused of providing classified information to the media with violations of the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law meant to prohibit “aiding the enemy.” These are more uses of the Espionage Act for that purpose than under all previous presidential administrations combined.
I never liked the word to begin with. The first time someone used it to describe intimate talk between friends I cringed: it confirmed my suspicion that transparency is just trendy rhetoric lacking any real substance. The idea of transparency in government was heavily promoted by Obama’s campaign. He and his minions swore in endless stump speeches that an Obama administration would be completely open and honest with the citizenry, that we would truly have a government of, by and for the people, something we’ve yet to behold in modern-day America. Obama began by posting all sorts of truths on his campaign website. The citizenry was elated.
Ah, but have you recently visited that website, Change.gov, first put up in 2008 (it seems a lifetime ago!)? Well, don’t bother trying—it was taken down some time around June. However, it can still be viewed at The Wayback archive for an interesting exercise in disappointment – you can see how much has not changed, or perhaps what has, only for the worse.
5. Talk v. Action, or Hypocrisy
In 2005 then-Senator Obama gave a speech in which he expressed righteous outrage about spying by the NSA, especially warning letters sent to citizens to let them know they and their property were going to be searched, and they had no right to decline or even to call a lawyer. Apparently once upon a time Obama was against spying, but that was before he found himself in the seat of power. You know what they say: Power Corrupts.
More recently, in a speech about the NSA/Snowden affair, Obama claimed he would have been perfectly glad to see the country engaged in rational debate on these issues. If that’s true, then why didn’t he start such a debate before his back was up against the wall?
When I first chose to name these five elements of Obama’s mode of governance, I didn’t realize how much alike they are and how they overlap. Having done research on each, I conclude that all of it can be summarized by that one word: Hypocrisy. Not for the first time, we’ve got a big fat hypocrite sitting in the Oval Office, pushing buttons and having a field day playing with power. We’ve been through worse I suppose. Next time let us remember: “The new boss is the same as the old boss” no matter how he’s packaged, and that includes the color of his wrapping.
The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama by Tom Junod in Esquire