If he thinks they’re helping him politically, he should think again.
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What is Obama trying to accomplish by offering opinions from on high on situations about which he does not have all the facts and cannot know the eventual outcome? Who is he trying to influence, and does he think he is succeeding?
In the cases of Professor Gates and Trayvon Martin, there are a few possibilities: He could be trying to influence the behavior of state or local law enforcement agencies, which would be utterly inappropriate for anyone with as little information as he has, and infinitely more inappropriate for the president of the United States.
He could be trying to energize his political base, including black voters, hoping to increase their enthusiasm which has been waning along with all of his other supporters’ since 2008. Or he could be trying to get the media to focus on the distraction caused by his comments rather than the more serious issues going on in the world which, if people were paying attention, would damage his reelection prospects. The truth is probably a combination of all of the above.
When commenting about the Supreme Court, however, one has to wonder whether the president truly thinks he can influence their decision by trying the case in the newspapers and the blogosphere. Lecturing local cops from the bully pulpit is one thing. Lecturing the nation’s highest court is something else. As Jim Antle points out, Obama can’t actually believe that the Supreme Court’s overturning part or all of Obamacare would be “unprecedented [and] extraordinary,” as he stated on Monday.
That said, Obama’s history, including lying to Congress — in a State of the Union address with the Supreme Court Justices present — about the impact of the Court’s Citizens United decision, shows that neither truth nor common sense nor dignity will stay his hyper-partisan rhetoric from the swift completion of its appointed rounds.
If the president does believe he might sway Justice Anthony Kennedy or Chief Justice John Roberts (the only two who seem vaguely swayable), what would that mean about a man who was a lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago? It would mean that he believes the Court is politicized to the point of being functionally corrupt; no doubt his acolytes do believe that and will be utterly convinced of it after the greatest federal overreach since FDR is turned aside.
If he doesn’t believe the Court can be swayed by his words, then we return to his trying to motivate his base while distracting voters. Again, both are almost certainly true, given low approval ratings, $4 gasoline, and open-microphone “flexibility.”
Obama’s comments are ill-advised, politically speaking. They add political risk where he already has more than enough. True, if the Supreme Court were to uphold Obamacare, he looks slightly more prescient by having predicted as much. But that would be like winning a million dollar slot machine jackpot and learning the price was actually one hundred dollars more. Not that you’d refuse the Ben Franklin, but it’s really not what made your day.
On the other hand, by repeatedly predicting that the Supreme Court will uphold his eponymous law — a law so obviously unconstitutional that even a majority of Democrats recognize it as such — a Supreme Court loss will damage more than it otherwise might.
Again, it is not just grandma’s wisdom that Obama ignores by his unstoppable offering of divisive opinions; it is the wisdom of every good sports coach and political strategist: When the outcome is likely unfavorable, or even just unknown but with high risk, minimize expectations. Not only does that hurt you less if the result is bad, but it has the added advantage of keeping your opponents less motivated than they might otherwise be. Indeed, if I were a fence-sitting Supreme Court Justice, I might be more likely to fall off the fence against Obama rather than for him out of indignation at efforts to be muscled in an international press conference.
Without his pronouncements of confidence, should the Supreme Court overturn Obamacare in whole or in part, all Republicans and many independents will view Barack Obama as a man who watched and smiled while House and Senate Democrat leadership used every political maneuver they could conceive of — including bribery of Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) — to pass the biggest federal power grab since the 1930s despite not one of them, including the president, knowing what was in the bill.
But now that he is so publicly “confident,” if Obama is wrong about the Court’s June ruling, voters will instead view him as a man who is all of the above, and whose understanding of the Constitution is dangerously absent.
That last characteristic is more important than it has been in many election cycles with the nation’s modest renewal of interest in our Founding principles (and in the case of the Tea Party movement, a more than modest renewal).
But it’s not just that Obama will look constitutionally ignorant. It’s that he will look ignorant of the subject he used to teach.
Imagine Mitt Romney giving, for no good reason, an opinion on a business situation where he could not possibly know the outcome, and then having his opinion turn out to be wrong. The media would crucify him and question his business bona fides as well as the wisdom of his having prognosticated — and on the latter they would be right.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?