THE FIVE TOP IRONIES OF OBAMA’S FIRST TERM
Every Presidency has its ironies, and I have put together what are, for me, the top five ironies of President Obama’s first term:
#1: President Obama is a Constitutional Scholar:
George W. Bush referred to the Constitution as a “piece of Paper,” so his destruction of the civil liberties provided to Americans by that document is sad. But it is not as ironic as Obama’s similar actions: Obama is trained as an expert on the subject of the Constitution, and is fully aware of how essential the freedoms described in The Bill of Rights are to our open society. The Patriot Act, which Bush signed and which Obama reauthorized, inflicts serious abridgements upon our First, Fourth and Fifth amendment protections against tyranny. President Obama’s expansion of the Transportation Security Administration’s “grope” and “naked body scanner” procedures clearly violate the 4th amendment.
According to the Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, “President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military ribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. (Without charge, evidence or any chance of a defense) His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.
In time, the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties.”
#2. Peace Prize? Really!
Let us put aside the ironies of the facts that Obama approved a military budget larger than his predecessor’s, that he expanded the “war on terror” to at least eight different fronts, and that he doubled the size of the war in Afghanistan. A second irony is that the man who received the Nobel Peace Prize, is, according to legal scholars, actually facilitating war crimes. Turley writes that Obama has flagrantly ignored the Convention Against Torture and its underlying Nuremberg Principles.”
Turley explains that Obama and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. have admitted that waterboarding is clearly torture, and that it has been long defined as such by both international and American courts. Thus, it is not just a crime, but it is a war crime. But President Obama violated international law by blocking investigations of these war crimes. His administration has also blocked the efforts of other countries to investigate our own alleged war crimes — countries such as Spain. Turley notes that all of these cover-ups destroy US credibility. And Obama’s persecution of peaceful anti-war activists, including his Justice Department’s threats to send Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan to Federal prison, provides additional evidence that this Peace Price recipient is actually — at war with the very idea of peace.
#3. Foot-in-Mouth Disease:
Four years ago, Presidential candidate Barack Obama uttered these very correct words: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Candidate Obama was correct in this assessment of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. But President Obama, in contrast, seemed to disagree with his earlier self, when he authorized the invasion of Libya without any Congressional approval. According to former Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D), this kind of illegal authorization of war is an impeachable offense.
#4. Whistling Dixie:
As Glenn Greenwald wrote for Salon, “When President Barack Obama took office, in 2009, he championed the cause of government transparency, and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers. He described these as being ‘often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government.’”
However, as Greenwald points out, the Obama Administration has used the Espionage Act to charge five whistleblowers with national-security leaks — a greater number of prosecutions than have been sought in all previous US Administrations combined. “Ironically,” Greenwald concludes, “Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history — even more so than Nixon.”
#5. Saddest Irony of Them All:
The election of a man of African decent, by a nation that is 86% non-black, was a validation of the fact that America is not a racist country. It was a symbolic leap forward for the cause of racial equality. A tragic irony of the first US administration led by an American of color is the number of people of color people now dead as a result of his foreign policy in the Middle East and Africa — especially those civilians of color killed by Predator Drone-launched Hellfire Missiles, in addition to those dead from the “pre-emptive wars” throughout the region.
What does Rev. Martin Luther King, who actually preached and lived peace, think of this warmongering against people of color, observing this from Heaven? The greatest of the five ironies is that Dr. King’s dream of peace, nonviolence and racial harmony is, under this administration, turning into a cruel joke.
:: photo courtesy of Marc Nozell via Creative Commons license ::