December 19, 2008

His Highness

The Return of the Imperial Presidency

By William Warren

As Christmas nears and millions of Americans across the country prepare to celebrate the birth of a child in a lowly manger, Barack Obama is gearing up for a celebration of his own—his imperial Inauguration. And, like all of his celebrations, his inaugural plans are rife with forced symbolism and unprecedented grandeur.

With regards to his journey to Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration, it seems the President-elect has taken note of the brouhaha the Big Three endured by deciding to forgo a jet trip on Obama Air. Rather, the junior Senator turned President will ride by train.

Before you chuckle at Mr. Obama’s meager travel selection, understand that there is always an underlying methodology in his mania for the meretricious. As expected, this is no ordinary train trip.

The President-elect’s train journey—which will take him from Philadelphia to Washington with stops in Wilmington and Baltimore in between—is meant to mirror a similar train journey made by Abraham Lincoln to his Inaugural in 1861. In a shameless effort to paint the incoming president not only as the next Lincoln, but also as the living embodiment of his legacy, Obama’s inaugural planners are pulling out all the stops. As the following USA Today excerpt reiterates:

“Philadelphia is a logical starting point, said presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, especially for the nation's first African-American president. The framers of the Constitution — all white males — ‘set in motion something that is still a work in progress,’ he said.”

And, as Emmett S. Beliveau, executive director of the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee, said regarding the overtly symbolic, multi-city trip:

"As part of the most open and accessible Inauguration in history, we hope to include as many Americans as possible who wish to participate, but can't be in Washington…These events will allow us to do that while honoring the rich history and tradition of previous inaugural journeys."

It seems Barack Obama has quite an affinity for honoring rich history—especially, of course, if it honors him in the process. For instance, Mr. Obama honored the “rich history” of the Roman emperors by addressing the masses beneath the pearly white Greek temple at the coliseum known as INVESCO field. And although his followers may have trouble recalling the specifics of that particular speech, one thing is for certain—“All Hail Obama” was a spectacle to behold.

Speaking of imperial-like ostentation, the President-elect made quite a spectacle at a recent press conference. When a particular reporter, John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune, asked Mr. Obama a reasonable question regarding the now-infamous Rod Blagojevich and the situation in Chicago, the imperial Mr. Obama became indignant and refused to allow the reporter to finish his question:

“John, let me just cut you off…because I don’t want you to waste your question. As I indicated yesterday, we’ve done a full review of this…the facts are going to be released next week, it would be inappropriate for me to comment…because, the story for example that you just talked about in your own paper, I haven’t confirmed that it was accurate and I don’t want to get into the details at this point. So, do you have another question?”

When the bold reporter refused to sit down and continued to probe the President-elect—as he dutifully should as a respectable journalist—Mr. Obama again silenced him while visibly displaying his agitation. After all, if the President-elect doesn’t want to answer a question he finds displeasing, why should he?

How very regal of you, Mr. Obama.

Unfortunately, it appears America may be in store for a return of the imperial presidency, the likes of which the nation hasn’t seen since the days of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.

President Nixon, who apparently saw himself as more than a just a president, saw trifling things like laws and rules as below him. As the new Frost/Nixon movie poignantly reminds us, Tricky Dick once said:

“When the president does it that means that it is not illegal.”

In the case of President Johnson, a leader who exploited unchecked power from a grieving populace, imperial presidential administrations can even lead to war.

And now Barack Obama, with his symbolic self-honoring, silencing of the press, and narcissistic overkill, is heading on a train ride to not merely an inauguration, but a coronation. You might even call it a triumphal entry.

However, as CNN’s Campbell Brown pitches a bit of royal fit regarding Mr. Obama’s demeanor at his recent press conference, she ought to take a step back and realize how the President-elect got to where he is today. The media, including Campbell Brown, helped cultivate Mr. Obama’s Emperor-like demeanor. In her monologue, Mrs. Brown claims the media’s role is “not to support President-elect Obama, but to challenge him…to do their best to hold him accountable.”

Yet, Mrs. Brown, why shouldn’t Barack Obama be offended by a slightly pointed question? He’s simply not used to them!

At virtually no time during the campaign did the mainstream media challenge Barack Obama or hold him accountable in any way. Rather, the media enthusiastically protected the former Democratic presidential nominee, giving him a get-out-of-scrutiny-free card and a whole lot of adoration. After all, who could forget:

• MSNBC’s Chris Matthews enthusing about the “thrill” running up his leg when he hears Barack Obama speak?

• Or Clair Simpson of Good Morning America gushing over Barack Obama’s “fluid poetry” and “overnight political rock star” status?

• Or PBS’s Gwen Ifill and her glowing literary tribute: “Breakthrough: Politics in the Age of Obama”

Naturally, Mr. Obama would interpret this latest journalistic negligence as a sign to reign royally. And although we should be thankful the President-elect isn’t cutting off the heads of dissidents in the style of emperors of old, his cutting off of reporters ought to be seriously worrisome for those who believe the President is to be of—not above—the people.

William Warren is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.


Donald Douglas said...

"At virtually no time during the campaign did the mainstream media challenge Barack Obama or hold him accountable in any way. Rather, the media enthusiastically protected the former Democratic presidential nominee, giving him a get-out-of-scrutiny-free card and a whole lot of adoration."

That pretty much sums it up.

I saw Obama smack down the reporter in the press conference. He's extremely condescending to the press, and frankly impatient taking questions on what's of great importance to the people. Now, he's putting up some cover by selecting Rick Warren for the invocation, while at the same time his transition is planning the biggest reversal of pro-life regulations since Roe v. Wade in 1972.

I get sick and tired of all of this, and he's not even taken office. Just to speak out about how radical his base is, is to get one attacked as fascist. Kids are having babies before they can drive cars, and there's not a word about it from the Democrats.

I could go on...

Nice posting, in any case.

Jan said...

"I saw Obama smack down the reporter in the press conference. He's extremely condescending to the press, and frankly impatient taking questions on what's of great importance to the people."

Donald..I know, and all I can say is that he is about the most arrogant individual I've seen in a long time.

If it all makes you sick now, just think of what it will be like when he really does take office.

I think that a lot of Democrats who voted him in are probably going to rue the day.

About speaking out about how radical his base is--better do it while you still can.

Donald Douglas said...

Well, I think we'll be okay as bloggers. He's be too dumb to push for some fairness doctrine to block bloggers on the web, but I'm not saying he wouldn't do it.

The economic problems are going to give this administration unprecedented economic power, and taxes will go up, with regulations, while American continue to fawn over the "one," and the way he treats the press is sick.

Now, did you see that little Cayley down in Florida has been identified by DNA? Why doesn't Obama speak out on the cultural decay of this society? Who will protect life if the president wants to kill babies and take people's guns away. Abortionists and criminals will have free rein.


Jan said...

Donald..I don't think he will, either, right away. But you know the old story about the frog being put into a pot of water which is gradually being heated, and before he knows it, he's being boiled alive? I'm afraid that's what's been happening all along in this country, and now look where we are.

About little Caylee--heartbreaking, and it's happening much too often.

If the mother is found guilty, there will be those protesting, and defending her rights to the nth degree.

On one of the television shows the other day, they were discussing the fact that Casey Anthony hadn't wanted to have, or to keep the baby, but the grandmother had insisted. One of the guest then said that it should be a lesson, because "that's what happens when a young woman is forced to have a child that she doesn't want"..implying, of course that it was a good argument for abortion on demand.

Now, that's unbelievable.

Papa Frank said...

That picture made me laugh. I couldn't help but think of the uncanny resemblance to Jughead from the old Archie comic books. LOL!!!

Papa Frank said...

Do you mind if I steal that photo?

Jan said...

Papa Frank..I thought that reminded me of something! LOL

You're welcome to anything on here!

sheoflittlebrain said...

Everything he's done or said has been blatently stolen from truly great men. And it's worked perfectly!
The mainstream media is now faced with trying to close the barn door after the horse has fled. Not that I can think of them as journalists, but should the impulse to do real reporting strike them, they will be faced by the monster of their own creation.
And as for the gap between the elitists and mainstream widens daily..
Wow! Jan you've given me such a rush of adrenalin..I'd better put it to good use and go clean something!