John Colson: Hit and Run
December 5, 2009
There are a lot of people in the U.S. who voted for President Barack Obama and are now wondering if somebody pulled a switch before inauguration day and a different man is in the White House.
I have to admit, I’m one of them.
Against my better judgment (or my innate cynicism, which is what passes for judgment in my mind and heart), I was energized by Obama’s candidacy, his intellect, his optimism, his seeming dedication to clarity in government and institutional compassion on all fronts.
But he’s been calling some fairly questionable plays from his position as quarterback of our national leadership team, and this week he did it again when he invoked executive privilege to keep his social secretary from testifying on Capital Hill over the now-infamous “White House crashers” incident.
For those whose heads are permanently stuck underground, a pair of reality-show wannabes, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, wormed their ways into a White House state dinner without an invitation. Perhaps just an innocent prank, the move has generated shock waves over concerns that if these two saps could do this, what’s to stop your smart terrorist/assassin from doing the same thing?
But, in response to calls from Congress to hear from those responsible for White House party-security, the president ruled his social secretary, Desiree Rogers, off-limits to Congress, invoking executive privilege.
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Now, why on Earth would he do this? The invocation of executive privilege is, to my understanding, to be reserved for serious conflicts between the executive and legislative branches of government, not a hapless lapse of vigilance on the part of White House functionaries.
Granted, Obama’s Republican critics would make some political hay over Rogers’ testimony no matter what she said, but they’re making hay anyway after Obama handed them the rake.
And now, instead of sidelining this little tempest in a teapot to the joke punchline that it should be, Obama has raised its profile into a serious questioning of his judgment.
Not to mention the fact that, when he took office, Obama promised to open up the White House after years of darkness at the hands of the Bush/Cheney cabal. Over and over, Obama pledged to bring greater transparency to government, but over and over again he has done the opposite.
And to what end? What did he think would happen, what could he hope to gain by swatting at this procedural fly with the broadsword of executive privilege?
I just don’t get it.
And, while I’m on the subject of not getting it, why is his administration not manning the ramparts over the Comcast-NBC/Universal mega-merger?
During his campaign, Obama was highly critical of the merger-mania that has taken over the U.S. economy, which seemed to bode well for those of us who see the devil in every attempt by huge corporations to get even huger by swallowing up their competition.
We all know why Comcast wants the deal. It would become perhaps the biggest single player in the entertainment/communication/Internet game, wielding such a vast influence as to set it above the law, the customer’s interests and true government oversight.
The urge toward monopoly seems to have taken over the minds of corporate America in a very final and frightening way. Competition, the supposed backbone of capitalism, is viewed as a hindrance to ever-increasing profit, because it acts as a check against the expansionist dreams of the über-corporations.
Of course, what we watch on television, see in the movie theater and play with on the Internet may seem like small fish next to international terrorism, the Great Recession and other worldly concerns.
But the plain fact is that most of us get most of our information from those sources, and already we are being lulled to sleep by the pabulum served up by the media conglomerates. This merger is more of the same, and should be stopped.
Hey, Obama, are you listening?