So it is of some significance that CNBC’s media and technology editor, Dennis Kneale, called Obama a bully in an op/ed appropriately titled “Obama Is a Bully,” dated April 26, 2010:
Will someone please rein in our relentlessly hectoring President? Barrack Hussein Obama has taken his gift for inspirational oratory—one of the traits that got him elected—and turned it into something darker and more insidious.
Bam is a bully. Bad enough that he bashes Wall Street, but this President has gone farther than any in modern history in putting the wrong kind of “bully” back into what Teddy Roosevelt had called the bully pulpit.
Obama’s latest broadside came over the weekend, when he vehemently criticized the state of Arizona and its (Republican) governor for passing a tough new law on illegal immigration.
The President called the measure “misguided” and all but labeled it un-American. He even ordered the Department of Justice, before the ink on this bill-signing has even dried, to examine the civil-rights “implications” of the new law. Seems like the courts and rights groups could handle that once any problem actually emerges.
Can you remember any other modern President, wagging a finger from on high, so directly and bitterly criticizing a new law passed by any state?
This is hubris at best and ignorance of the Constitution at worst. The U.S. was founded in part on the precept of states’ rights as an important counterweight to a rapacious federal government. Thus a President must step softly here, questioning gently but avoiding rancor and browbeating.
The new state law itself is disturbing, even detestable, and I don’t like it. It forces immigrants to carry with them proof of their legal status and lets cops demand to see the “papers” of anyone (read: any foreign-looking person) to make sure he didn’t sneak into the country. It smacks of Nazis in the Jewish ghetto in Poland.
But it is the law, and Arizona’s people duly elected the legislators who voted for it. They acted, moreover, on an issue the feds clearly have botched—immigration—and are trying to protect the state’s citizens from an influx of drug-cartel violence from Mexico.
Rather than trash an entire state, Bam could have privately lobbied Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and urged her to veto the bill. Or he could have said, simply, that he hoped to pass better solutions at the federal level.
That would have been statesmanlike, but this President gets pouty whenever anyone dares to disagree with him. He seems to view dissension not as healthy public debate but as a suspicious, pernicious challenge to his omnipotence and popularity.
Obama the Bully, at his State of the Union address, had the temerity to criticize the Supreme Court of the United States for its new ruling that companies have a right to free speech in political campaign advertising (a right that unions already enjoyed, by the way). He did this as the justices themselves sat before him in the audience, paying their respects to a leader who showed them none.
Perhaps President Obama had forgotten an American civics lesson: The Supreme Court is the supreme law of the land. It is unseemly and disrespectful for a President to so bluntly and blatantly question the justices’ judgment and intent—especially right in front of their faces.
I can’t remember of any other President in my memory having done this. Nixon maybe? An unfortunate comparison, indeed.
Similarly, President Obama maligns Wall Street for trying to have a say in financial reform and lobbying for its interests, though this input is a vital ingredient in any democratic process. Yet Obama doesn’t criticize giant unions like the AFL-CIO and the SEIU when they similarly lobby on fin-reg.
Why? Because the unions agree with him. Even though Wall Street has a far more legitimate claim to get involved in this debate than do the unions, which represent only 7% of the private work force and essentially should have no dog in this fight at all.
Hmm, now that I think about it, nor can I recall any other modern President who has spent so much effort lambasting his immediate predecessor. Reagan didn’t do it to Carter. Clinton didn’t do it to the first George Bush.
And the worst part is, we’re barely calling out Obama the Bully on this behavior at all. We are becoming entirely too accustomed to it, failing to see it for what it really is: a striking lack of civility, and an overflow of divisiveness, from a President who had promised to give us precisely the opposite.