“These are my principles and if you don’t like them…well, I have others.”
Who said it (or should have said it)? Obama? Trump?
Take a quick look at the presidential records of these two stalwart characters and hazard a guess before you look at the end of this piece and discover who really said it. You might be in for a surprise.
Obama’s grade for principle-keeping were he still at Harvard where grade-inflation is king could rise from an F at another less charitably inclined institution to at most a D-at the “happiest place on earth.” Take a gander at principles avowed (most out of the mouth of Candidate Obama or President-elect Obama) and their restatement and realignment as President Obama adjusts them to fit the whims of his new best friends – the moguls who underwrote his two campaigns.
Let the food fight begin
Candidate Obama did some pretty heavy lifting on the principles driving his “hope and change” train. One of them, holding the Bushies accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors like torture, warrantless wiretapping, rendition, suspension of habeas corpus and a myriad of littler infractions, came out of the mouth of Candidate Obama like this “If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated.” Hurrah for the little fellow. Finally, a champion in the White House. Not so fast, here’s President Obama declaiming on this same subject, this time with a different predicate: “…we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward…What we have to focus on is getting things right in the future as opposed to…what we got wrong in the past.” Whoops, forget the “perp walks,” the raincoats covering faces, it’s a new day and no one is walking the plank.
Here’s Candidate Obama taking a principled, in-your-face stand on the question of government whistleblowers. “…Acts of courage and patriotism …should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing…” So much for campaign rhetoric. In 2011, President Obama unleashed the Insider Threat Program (more popularly and truthfully known as the Employee Snitch Network) with the intention of rooting out these same “federal employees acting as watchdogs of wrongdoing.” Another principle upended.
Now we get to the biggie —the Affordable Care Act (in Obama-speak his signature piece of legislation). Once again Candidate Obama, President-elect Obama, and new President Obama were singing from the same hymnal “everything was coming up roses.” Here’s President Obama two months after his inauguration still singing the harmony part of the health care ballad — “…if you can’t obtain [health insurance] through a private plan there is going to be a public option available.” A funny thing happened on the way to health care heaven—those dang-blasted major funders of Obama’s didn’t like this public option nonsense. Accordingly, on April 1, 2014, with the democratic mafia hi-fiving and patting each other on the back (puts you in mind of another celebration a couple of weeks ago when President Trump and his cheerleaders took their turn around the Maypole for the passage of yet another health insurance bill). President Obama laid another principle to eternal rest — “Like every major piece of legislation…this law [ACA] is not perfect. We’ve had to make adjustments along the way.” (For more on Obama and the yellow brick road, check out here and here)
From one shape-shifting president to another, here’s Candidate Trump on the subject of FBI director Comey: “It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her [Hillary Clinton] from criminal prosecution… I was not his fan, but I’ll tell you what: What he did, he brought back his reputation.” Not so fast. Remember that gutsy FBI Director that just added Candidate Trump to his fan club? In what has become a familiar presidential back flip, President Trump’s ardor for the Director cooled quickly. By May 9, three months and counting post-Inauguration, Trump sent Comey an eviction notice — “I…concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively head the Bureau.” In this land of fun-house mirrors, all was not what it first seemed. Why did Comey get the boot? “Let me count the ways.” Press Secretary Sean Spicer had the first go at the excuse mill — “No one from the White House [was responsible]… that [firing Comey] was a DOJ [Department of Justice] decision.” Well, not exactly. Can’t get good help these days. With his staff running out of excuses, Trump stepped up to the plate — “He [Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein] made a recommendation but…I was going to do it anyway.” But then new excuses hove into view and Trump hopped aboard the excuse train one more time —When I decided to do it, I said to myself…this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up thing…this [Russian investigation] was an excuse for having lost an election. Like a soufflé that’s been out of the oven too long, that excuse fell flat and failed to calm the media uproar. In a game of “Who’s On First” Sean Spicer strikes out with this whopper —“The President, over the last several weeks, has lost confidence in Director Comey,” Having exhausted his repertoire, Spicer heads off stage to be replaced by Deputy Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who proceeds to muddy the waters further—Comey was terminated for “atrocities” he committed against the chain of command by failing to inform his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, of his July 5 press conference on the Clinton e-mail kerfuffle. (She later apologized for her word choice). A list of other possible reasons for Comey’s departure (check whichever one appeals to you 1) Failure to prevent leaks from FBI headquarters 2) Factual errors while testifying before a Senate panel 3) Failure to return the men’s room key to the hook on the wall after using it (Sorry, just kidding).
To add to the groaning board of excuses and counter excuses, we couldn’t resist ending on a note of barely-suppressed howls with a couple of well-chosen words from the democrats’ official Windbag-in-Chief, Chuck Schumer, or as he is more popularly known Senator Wall Street. Here he is in November, 2016 after the election “I do not have confidence in him [Comey] any longer,” calling Comey’s 11th hour decision to look into Clinton’s improper private email server “appalling.” Flop-flops being the political equivalent of breathing, here he is changing his tune in May, 2017 —”This [firing Comey] is part of a deeply troubling pattern from the Trump administration. This does not seem to be a coincidence.”
The BIG REVEAL
Who said it? Obama or Trump? Skeptics may argue that, unlike Cinderella’s, this glass slipper fits on either man’s foot. Not surprisingly neither president is going to own up to being bought and paid for by assorted billionaires. Now for the shocking truth. The real author has actually been dead for 40 years but he sure hit the nail on the head before he left. Something about history repeating itself — Presidents who promise the electorate a new version of the American Dream when they’re campaigning and trot out the same cold porridge when they win. Maybe George Carlin was right “They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
The answer: Groucho Marx.
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