We Are Not Worthy
Back in the days when reporters were curious skeptics, they went by the old adage, “Watch What They Do, Not What They Say.” The best journalists dismissed empty political rhetoric. They reported on actions, not words.
Now we have a startling development. The White House press corps need not dig for the news to determine the administration’s true intentions. By its own admission, the Obama administration has told us exactly what it thinks of us.
It came in a startling statement during inauguration week published in a Washington Post story that assessed the president’s second term strategy and his legacy. Then White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said that we are not worthy of the president’s determination to pursue his agenda swiftly in his second term.
“There is a moment of opportunity now that’s important,” Pfeiffer said. “What’s frustrating is that we don’t have a political system or an opposition party worthy of the opportunity.”
First, there is that annoying political system that could block the president’s progress. It is the elaborate system of checks and balances embedded in the Constitution. Obama is a longtime critic of the Constitution. Rather than a safeguard of individual rights and a bulwark against the tyranny of the majority, Obama sees the Constitution as a roadblock to his view of social justice and the pursuit of the progressive agenda.
No wonder he dismisses checks and balances at will. When Congress failed to pass the Dream Act, he walked into the Rose Garden and proclaimed his version of the Dream Act the law of the land. When he faced congressional opposition to certain presidential appointments, he declared the Senate in recess and made the appointments anyway. In both cases, he gave the Congress the back of his hand
(The president received a reprimand just the other day for this maneuver when the D.C. appeals court struck down the recess appointments as unconstitutional.)
Then there is that annoying business about the opposition party. The president is stuck with a Republican House. There is nothing he can do about it before November 2014.
In the meantime, he needs to strike some sort of deals with the House Republicans to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government, to say nothing of heading off the drastic spending cuts in the still threatening sequestration law. This is his greatest challenge. His failure to help resolve the nation’s fiscal crisis could undo all the work of both his first and second terms. The stakes are high.
Obama’s second term agenda is aggressive and confrontational. It is a no holds barred statement of liberal goals. He stated it clearly in his inaugural address that summarized the theme of his long-held dream of entering the history books as a president who transformed the nation.
What Obama fears more than anything is the verdict of history that will give him credit for his sweeping healthcare legislation, but will put him down as a president who managed on the margin in times of economic crisis. This is not the path to greatness he seeks.
Time is running short; Obama knows he must act quickly. “Let’s not focus on what’s possible or doable,” Obama reportedly told his staff in pre-inaugural meetings. “Tell me what our goal should be, and let me worry about the politics.”
The politics will be brutal. The president will revert to campaign form and take to the road, lecturing the unworthy about the rightness of his goals. He will bounce from college campus to favored interest group demonizing the opposition and warning of the missed opportunity if he is ignored. Have Teleprompter, Will Travel.
Deeply embedded in Pfeiffer’s remark and the president’s aggressive launch of his second term is the deeply offensive and dangerous attitude that Obama and his followers occupy the moral high ground. To the president, his critics are not just wrong, they are a morally depraved band of know-nothing throwbacks. They are beyond redemption.
How else to explain the ridicule and disdain for those who question the president’s declarations on climate change, gun control, gay rights, and immigration reform. This is the Obama playbook. It is a time-honored tactic of the left. It dismisses opposition out of hand and blocks the way to constructive dialogue that can lead to compromise.
A few days after the inauguration, Obama elevated Pfeiffer from the post of White House Communications Director to Senior Advisor to the president. He is closer than ever to the seat of power. We can safely assume that Pfeiffer’s critique of the unworthy was not an original thought. It came from the top.
During the course of his career, Walker has worked in Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, and Phoenix. He served as a reporter in Chicago, a press secretary and speechwriter in Washington, and in numerous positions in New York in corporate and financial services communications.
Walker is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.