From its earliest days, the Obama Administration has operated from a “community organizer” worldview, characterized by an “us” against “them” perspective. The President has repeatedly and in a variety of circumstances said, “Elections have consequences, and I won” as an excuse for yet another executive order, non-Constitutional decision, or “in-your-face” arrogant action. The President goes through the motions of listening to others: he claims to be bipartisan; he hosts White House confabs and talks about the need for compromise, but he always ends up saying, “I won,” and ends any pretense of discussion or negotiation. He explains that, as President, he shouldn’t have to “bring something to the table” and declares that he will not negotiate, as though that his beneath his dignity as President. He goes to play golf and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s snide remarks become the Democrat voice.
Obviously, the President did win the election; he won the presidency. But, as noted by James Joyner in Outside the Beltway: the President is not a king or a prime minister. Granted, he is the most powerful person in America and, indeed, in the world (though, sadly and increasingly, less so), but he does not control the other two branches of government. They have the responsibility to balance his power for the good of the people. The Legislative and Judicial branches of government are independent entities. And, as clarified brilliantly and effectively by Thomas Sowell, the House of Representatives has the right –– indeed, the authority and responsibility –– to grant or withhold money: they voted “all the money required to keep all government activities going except for Obamacare.” The decision of the House of Representatives determines independently where money is to be spent. It is called “legislation by appropriation.”
Thus, the House deemed, as representatives of the people, that Obamacare was not ready for implementation nor was the timing right given the high levels of unemployment and the national debt and deficit figures creating a financial crisis.
Let me repeat: The House authorized funds to operate the government except for ObamaCare; the Senate refused to accept the money for operating the government unless funds were also appropriated for Obamacare. As Sowell notes, “That is their right. But that is also their responsibility.”
In other words, the Senate chose to shut down the government rather than delay funding for Obamacare. And, even if the Senate had voted the same as the House, the President said he would veto that vote. The bottom line is that neither the Senate nor the President would accept the appropriations authority of the House.
Thus, the Senate and the President bear sole and complete responsibility for the government shutdown. If they had been willing to accept the constitutionally determined role of the House of Representatives, there would have been negotiations on the controversial issues while government operated as usual. A reporter who worked for two decades as a New York Times reporter described the Obama Administration as the “most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.”
All the political posturing of the Obama Administration and Senate leadership –– including unprecedented vindictive actions, name-calling, pettiness and juvenile behavior –– comes straight out of a “community organizer” playbook, not from constitutional government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Community organizers ensure that the consequences for opposing them are “as painful as possible.” By now, everyone is familiar with all the unprecedented “trivial and petty” measures taken by the Obama Administration to ensure that the public is as inconvenienced as possible. Park Rangers were told to “make life as difficult for people” as they could. They were forced to close down national parks –– even those that are outdoors and normally not guarded and have no entrance or exit; instead, the monuments or areas were barricaded with metal fences wired together. The National Mall and other historic areas were turned visually into police crime scenes with police tape draped over barriers and police cars blocking entrances to parking lots and driveways with red and blue lights glaring.
Community organizers demonize opponents. Wes Pruden, veteran columnist for the Washington Times, described Sen. Harry Reid as “weary from exhausting his thesaurus for synonyms for ‘arsonist’ and ‘terrorist’ and ‘pillager’” –– just a few of the derogatory terms he used to refer to the Republicans and anyone whose views differ from the Democrats intent on forcing Obamacare against the public will. Mr. Pruden compared the shutdown politics to grade-school one-up-manship with the point being “to see who can squeeze hardest, make the most pious speech and listen for the applause.”
Community organizers always proceed forward within the ideological framework (worldview) that pits “us” against “them.” A tour guide at Yellowstone National Park was leading a group of tourist at the park when the shutdown went into force. The tourists complained about the “Gestapo tactics” that confined the group to their hotel and would not even let them take pictures of the scenery. Catholic priests in the military were threatened with arrest if they conducted mass. A jogger at the Valley Forge National Historic Park was fined $100 for “trespassing” on public property. Campers, bikers, and hikers were issued fines at Acadia National Park.
Community organizers believe that the ends justify the means and that there are winners and losers with the winners taking all the “marbles” and the losers trod under foot. A senior administration official told the Washington Examiner, “We are winning; it doesn’t really matter to us how long the shutdown lasts.” The President has just upped the ante by reiterating that “he won’t negotiate on a government-funding bill or debt-limit increase.” The White House is eliciting what they called “sob-stories” from the public about how the shutdown is hurting them with plans to use those emotional tidbits to sway public opinion their way; after all, anything goes when you are the winner and everyone else is the loser.
Clearly, for this administration: It’s my way or the highway. Amber Alerts have been shut down; Leader Reid doesn’t worry about children dying from cancer, and the dog therapy program that brings dogs to visit terminally ill children has been suspended. Then, in the lowest blow of all, news comes that families of military personnel killed in Afghanistan during the shutdown will not receive funeral benefits –– typically around $100,000 to cover airfare to D.C. for the arrival of the body and other costs associated with the loss of a loved one. There appears to be no low to which this Administration will not stoop to show who “won.” For the community organizer, winning is all that counts.