Bully Pulpit, or Government by Bullies?

By | October 17, 2013 | 1 Comments

Teddy Roosevelt called the presidency a “bully pulpit.” He meant that it was an ideal platform from which to speak to the people. He used the word “bully” as we would use “outstanding.” He clearly did not mean it to refer to an actual bully.
But today, we could refer to the administration specifically, and the federal government in general, as a crowd of bullies. Consider these news items:

Obama seems to think presidency gives him absolute power – Grants over 1400 ObamaCare wavers to favored groups without congressional approval.

Under Obamacare, unelected bureaucrats will make life-and-death health-care decisions for all 316 million Americans – decisions that cannot be reviewed by the courts or Congress.

Obama declares, “I shouldn’t have to offer anything” – referring to his refusal to compromise with House GOP leaders.

Left uses racist epithets to discredit conservatives. Harry Reid calls them “angry old white men.” And he is a…?

Rep. Louie Gohmert: White House using “Al Capone” tactics in shutting national monuments, causing unnecessary pain from “shutdown.”

In Yellowstone Park, a privately run hotel is closed, seniors are kept inside by armed park rangers, and on bus trip out of park are forbidden to use toilet.

Catholic chaplains barred from military installations because of “shutdown,” even if they offer to serve without pay.

Veterans, many in wheelchairs, barred from World War II Memorial until some break through.

Veterans’ benefits, even including the death benefit for those killed in the line of duty, are withheld, supposedly because of the “shutdown.”

Many other “shutdown” abuses are reported, most of which actually cost money rather than save it, but all of which seem petty, small-minded, and vindictive.

I’ve always hated bullies. When I started junior high school, I was small for my age and wore glasses. In the schoolyard, a larger, older boy homed in on me as though by radar. He enjoyed punching me on the back of the upper arm, causing bruises. Fighting was severely punished, so at first I did nothing.
But one day, I had enough. I approached him with an offer. He could punch me on the arm as much as he liked, but for each punch, I could punch him on the arm. Of course he agreed. A small crowd gathered to watch. He punched me fairly hard, and I punched him lightly.
Smirking, he punched me again. But this time, I used what I had learned by watching boxing on TV. I planted my feet, pivoted, and threw a punch with my weight behind it. The kids standing around winced from the loud whack. The bully said nothing but never bothered me again.
At the age of 13, I learned a lesson that many people do not learn by middle age. I learned what many professors, intellectuals, politicians, and even presidents never learn. I learned that bullies must be confronted. I learned that if reason proves ineffective, force must be used. I learned that in order to reduce violence, one must be willing to hit − not just to be hit.
How was this schoolyard bully any different, morally or intellectually, from the recent actions of the Obama administration? In both cases, the purpose is to inflict unnecessary pain in order to dominate those less able to fight back.
At home, the administration puts intense pressure on congressional Republicans to support ObamaCare, even though the Constitution gives the House power to originate all tax and spending bills. President Obama proclaims, “It’s the law of the land.” Yes, but so was the Fugitive Slave Act. How did that work out?
Any law can be repealed or amended. Obama himself “amended” ObamaCare illegally by delaying it for big businesses, and by adding an exemption for himself, Congress, and other high officials. How’s that for “fairness” and “transparency”? Apparently it is the law of some of the land, but not of his part.
Abroad, the administration behaves obsequiously with hostile foreign leaders, while it alienates friends. Remember Obama’s bowing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia? This man rules a nation that presents itself as our ally, but at the same time approves of terrorism and spends millions to fund radical mosques, run by imams who preach terrorism. Yet our president showed him not just respect, but obeisance.


Remember Obama’s behavior with Emperor Akihito of Japan? He is the titular head of a friendly nation. But why must our president bow to him?


President Obama is both chief of state (equivalent to a king) and head of government (equivalent to a prime minister). As such, he should greet foreign leaders with respect, but as equals − which they are, according to official protocol.
These are blatant examples, but hardly the only ones. Remember Obama’s affectionate handshake with the late, unlamented Hugo Chavez of Venezuela?


While not as disgraceful as bowing, this warm greeting of an anti-American enemy of freedom symbolizes the new direction of our government: Be submissive to those who show us hostility, but be hostile to those who have a record of being our friends.
Consider the administration’s repeated, almost pathetic attempts to befriend the leaders of Iran. They call Israel a “cancer” that should be “wiped off the map,” while threatening Americans and pursuing a nuclear program.
Unstable fanatics developing nuclear weapons cause the administration only mild unease. But what causes acute anxiety? The Israelis decide to build 1600 housing units in East Jerusalem, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a meltdown. Build nuclear weapons? We’ll talk. But build apartments? Intolerable! If you want an illustration of a cowardly bully, look no further.
Nor is this the only example of hostility toward our friends. Consider Obama’s repeated snubs of Gordon Brown, then prime minister of Britain, our ally in two World Wars and our staunchest ally in the war on terror. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton went further and apparently sided with Argentina against Britain in the Falkland Islands dispute.
Consider Obama’s reneging on the promise of a missile defense for Poland and the Czech Republic, our friends in Eastern Europe. Soon our friends will conclude that they are our former friends and look elsewhere for friendship.
Added to the Obama administration’s deteriorating relationship with Israel, the anti-British turn in our foreign policy can be seen as punishing friends while rewarding enemies. This is a sure recipe for having fewer friends and more enemies. How could educated people not see this? Perhaps because their education was laced with large doses of “blame America first.” If we are responsible for most of the ills of the world, the solution is to reverse course − oppose our friends and befriend our enemies.
But is Iran responding to our overtures by dismantling its nuclear facilities and renouncing its hostile intentions? Is Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, now under would-be dictator Maduro, turning toward a pro-freedom, pro-United States policy? Is Abdullah’s Saudi Arabia ceasing to fund the instigation of terrorism? Is Putin’s Russia becoming our ally in the war on terror? Are you joking?
History shows that a submissive attitude will evoke only contempt and increased hostility. Most educated people regard the words “Chamberlain,” “Munich,” and “appeasement” with distaste. But to the anti-American Left, these words represent a policy that should be tried again − maybe this time it will work. It won’t.
The difference is that in World War II, our enemies needed ships, planes, and armies to attack us. This time, they can use suicide bombers, aircraft hijackers, missiles, and – ultimately – nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. This time, our oceans can’t protect us. This time, we don’t have months or years to awake from our pacifist slumber.
So there you have it: Bow to the strong; be aggressive to the weak. Grovel before enemies; turn your back on friends. Be meek before foreign tyrants; bully veterans in wheelchairs and seniors visiting Yellowstone. Would you respect a person who behaves like that? No? Then why would the world  respect a nation that behaves like that?
Some time ago, I passed a young man in the mall. He looked fit and had a “high and tight” haircut. He wore an olive green T-shirt. The wording caught my eye:

Mess with the best
Die like the rest

The words conveyed the basic idea of the war on terror. But things have changed. As everyone knows, bullies are basically cowards. Perhaps it is time for a new T-shirt, one that more accurately reflects the Obama administration:

Put us to the test
We’ll dump you like the rest

Of course, this shirt will be offered only in yellow or white, definitely not in olive green. A Benghazi image could be added at slight extra cost.


dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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