Obama puts the bully in bully pulpit

The big news from President Obama’s State of the Union address isn’t some new program (thank goodness for small mercies), but his aggressive plans on executive action. So much for a government of laws.

President Barack Obama pauses for applause during his State of the Union address Jan. 29, 2014. Larry Downing/Reuters

President Barack Obama pauses for applause during his State of the Union address Jan. 29, 2014. Larry Downing/Reuters

Obama said at a Jan. 14 Cabinet meeting, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone — and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.” Now he’s ready to make good on his threats.

In his State of the Union address, he told members of Congress that he’s “eager” to work with them, but if there are no deals, “wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”  In other words, my way or else.

These confrontational, uncompromising statements sound more like a self-appointed emperor violating his oath of office than the duly elected head of a democratic republic. But then again, when his and his fellow Democrats’ policies plunge the country deeper into financial chaos (no apologies made to the 5 million who have lost their health insurance or been forced into part-time positions due to Obamacare) and he breaks every promise made to get votes, perhaps the only thing left to do is go the bully route.

The bully route has become a much more common and public political weapon in the last few years. It is also one of the single biggest reasons why many people have withdrawn from politics.

When people express their beliefs only to be immediately shot down, stridently insulted or received with overt hostility, they tend to clam up and learn that it isn’t worth the pain and suffering to voice an opinion. Who wants to take the flak for simply expressing their views?

Strategic bullying is insidious and dangerous. It mutes dissension and stops good, qualified candidates from running for office, effectively stifles free speech and boils government down to a one-party system.

The worst part of this is that it isn’t the government or a court taking away our voice, it is us — we are censoring ourselves because we choose not to be made miserable by personal attacks that distract and deflect from the merits of issues.

I have seen fine individuals run for office only to be personally attacked, say, for being pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, or in favor of some other position that self-proclaimed progressives cannot tolerate.  This happens to people even at local levels, running for offices that have no power over such issues.

Fast forward and candidate after potential candidate refuses to run for the singular reason that they don’t want to be “Borked” like the others who came before them.  Yes, this tactic of vicious character assassination by the left goes back a long way.

It bears repeating: Strategic bullying effectively stifles freedom of speech and is used as a tactic to contrive a one-party system of rule.  Now the president has essentially staked out a pose of moral superiority to justify his contempt for the law and opposing views.

Can you imagine the outrage if Gov. Paul LePage decided that, instead of going through the Legislature, he would do everything by fiat? (Although I have to admit, think of the possibilities!)

Obama seems to have an overly developed sense of entitlement to his office that allows him to usurp power, sharpened over years of kowtowing by a complicit media and fawning by drooling  interviewers (although a disappointed Barbara Walters last month sighed to Piers Morgan, “We thought that he was going to be…the next messiah.”).

Our country has a constitution that requires shared power and a series of checks and balances. Although he might act otherwise, Obama isn’t king, dictator or emperor, and his arrogant, go-it-alone, end-run strategy around Congress sets a dangerous precedent.

If someone is hitting you with a stick, the best way to stop him is to take away the stick. It’s time for people on both sides of the aisle to call him out and stand up for the rule of law. After all, if you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing.

Susan Dench

About Susan Dench

Susan Dench is the founder and president of the fast-growing non-profit, non-partisan Informed Women's Network. Recognizing that many women are tired of "politics as usual," Susan decided to take action and develop strategies that are innovating the way women and politics intersect, nurturing and encouraging women in fun, energetic gatherings where views can be expressed in a supportive environment and then translated into practical solutions that produce results.