President Obama has been under siege by many for his so-called abuse of executive powers. Critics cite his decision to suspend active pursuit of undocumented immigrants that are not involved in criminal activity and his decision to not pursue Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts as examples of executive overreach. Some say his alleged use of “kill lists” and drone warfare are illegal and an example of cruel and unusual punishment. And now opponents of the president are characterizing the investigation of the Benghazi attack as a cover-up.
As always, the super hyperbole has seeped into the rhetoric, with critics saying this is the worse this or that, or never before have I seen type of statements. But really none of this is unprecedented or unusual in American politics. This is not to say it should be accepted, excused, or forgiven, just that it is pretty much the norm and people should stop feigning shock and awe.
All of this talk of constitutional abuses, the “kill lists,” spy drones, and drone strikes, conspiracies and the lot got me to wondering: Why do we expect the intelligence community to tell us the truth? Aren’t they trained to do just the opposite? Why are we surprised when a president hides behind “national security” rhetoric to hide the truth? Don’t we expect our presidents to be privy to information that is so sensitive and classified that if revealed it would 1) jeopardize the lives of many, 2) compel us into bringing all of our troops home and suspending all non-humanitarian foreign aid 3) immediately shock us into our sensibilities and reduce our military spend, our incessant need to build more weapons than we could ever need and immediately disarm all nuclear weapon capability and 4) cause a massive recall of the president and all of Congress for their blatant disregard for the law in lieu of political expediency. Don’t we elect and pay so-called professionals to decide what information should be considered classified and what should be public? Don’t we build bigger and better military weapons for both their offensive and defensive capabilities? And if we are fighting a war on terror, then shouldn’t we fight to win and if your enemy goes to quarter leave no quarter.
Much if not all of the talk about this administration’s so-called abuses is all political hype used to further the opposition’s political objectives. That is par for the course, but these things are hardly the worse events that have occurred under a president. Not even close, consider this short list:
- Kill List: Castro Assassination plot
- Embassy Attacks: Beirut Massacre
- FBI Cover Up: COINTELPRO
- Questionable Use of Military: My Lai Massacre
CIA Cover-Up: Iran-Contra Affair
- Questionable Presidential Use of Power: Panama invasion
Obama’s decision to allow productive undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and his belief that people should be able to marry whomever they please hardly rise to the level of these events. They don’t even make the top 100 list of so-called presidential abuse or misconduct. In fact, there is no abuse of power or misconduct in these actions. President Bush deferred the deportation of Chinese nationals in 1990 by way of executive order. The Benghazi consulate attack was not unprecedented, in fact American facilities are attacked quite frequently under all the presidents and the subsequent investigation machinations are also quite common and do not rise to the level, as yet, of some of the more storied scandals in American history. Obama hasn’t done anything illegal; he is behaving like a typical American president. We are reacting like a typical American citizenry. That is the norm.