WASHINGTON, November 23, 2013 — Over the course of his presidency, President Obama has been spared tough questions and scrutiny at the hands of the press. Obama is not without a nemesis. His most ardent and skilled challenger is no lightweight, backwoods legislator, no lap-dog of the Koch brothers. His harshest critic is none other than the former senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.
When denied a worthy opponent, you just have to play against yourself
The one-term senator from Illinois is the president’s most eloquent and passionate adversary. On almost every major issue the president has faced, excepting only healthcare, the senator has a strong and articulate response.
Take arguments on the debt ceiling not so long ago, when President Obama said, “The United States of America is not a deadbeat nation. We are a compassionate nation. We are the world’s bedrock investment. And doing anything to threaten that is the height of irresponsibility. That’s why I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. I will not allow anyone to harm this country’s reputation, or threaten to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people, just to make an ideological point.”
Senator Obama fired back with this:
“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”
President Obama said this about foreign wars:
“America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.”
Senator Obama retorted, “I said then that a war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics would lead to a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.”
President Obama launched a military action in Libya without seeking Congressional approval and after the House voted not to authorize a campaign. Senator Obama responded in fury, “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.”
President Obama supports the PATRIOT Act, observing, “It’s an important tool for us to continue dealing with an ongoing terrorist threat.”
Senator Obama responded from the Senate floor, “In Washington, this issue has tended degenerate into an ‘either-or’ type debate. Either we protect our people from terror or we protect our most cherished principles. But that is a false choice. It asks too little of us and assumes too little about America.”
The events of this last week once again brought these titans to blows. President Obama has been having trouble with getting his judicial appointments through the Senate. Republicans in the Senate have blocked Obama’s nominees, concerned about an ideological shift in the federal courts. On Thursday, the majority Democrats in the Senate voted for the “nuclear option,” a change in the filibuster rules to stop Republicans from blocking these nominees.
President Obama approved of the nuclear option. He observed, “A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the results of an election is not normal … And for the sake of future generations, it cannot become normal.”
Senator Obama again took to the Senate floor to voice his opposition to the president and his flagrant disregard for the hallowed rules of the Senate.
“The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse.”
If only we had someone like Senator Obama as president, a man who would fight to protect the rights of the minority while encouraging negotiation, who would stand up for American citizens in the face of extraordinary overreaches of government power in the name of fighting terrorism, a constitutional scholar who would stand up for the Constitution and rule of law.
If only we had that man as president.
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