Repealing Obamacare: Tactics vs. Strategy

I spend a lot of time writing about principles. One of my key warnings is that we remain principled in our thinking and our actions; pure pragmatism is dangerous because it neglects the basic truths. Yet that doesn’t mean that principled people shouldn’t be wise. Jesus told His disciples to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. He said that as He sent them out to deliver His message. On occasion, Jesus even told people He had healed to say nothing, as it would have set in motion events that would have hindered His mission because it would have aroused too much animosity from enemies at the wrong time. Was Jesus unprincipled?

The apostle Paul didn’t hesitate to use his Roman citizenship to forestall a beating; in fact, he depended on that citizenship to take him to Rome for a legal appeal. Should we question his commitment to suffering for the Lord? Of course not.

Why am I broaching this subject today? I want to relate it to the attempts by some to challenge the Obama administration. As you know from reading my daily posts, I challenge the actions of the Obama administration all the time, so I’m not averse to speaking out. Not all responses to what Obama has done, though, are necessarily wise. Take, for instance, the movement to impeach him. Now, I believe he is eminently impeachable. He has willfully ignored the Constitution continually. If impeachment could be carried out successfully, I would be fully behind the effort. But there are practicalities that must be considered. Even if the House—controlled by the Republicans—passed impeachment articles, the Senate—controlled by Democrats—would never remove Obama from office.

I supported the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton. He certainly deserved to be removed from office. Yet even in a Senate that had a majority of Republicans at that time, not one Democrat voted in favor of his removal. Does anyone think it would be different today? I have no problem with advocates of fidelity to the Constitution making the argument for why Obama deserves impeachment; that would perform a valuable educational service for the voters. But there is no hope of seeing this man kicked out of the presidency.

Unfortunately, all that would be accomplished by moving forward with articles of impeachment would be the tarnishing of Republicans in general and conservatives in particular. It shouldn’t be that way, of course, but that’s the reality we’re dealing with. Rush Limbaugh has come up with the term “low-information voters.” It accurately describes a significant segment of our electorate:

Only Candidate

In a more perfect world, such people would never be allowed to choose their leaders. This is not that more perfect world. We have to live with what we have.

Those who read this blog regularly also know I’m a firm opponent of Obamacare. My heart’s desire is to see that abomination repealed immediately, if not sooner. Yet the current effort by some senators—all of whom I admire for their principles—to defund Obamacare is doomed to failure as well. It might pass the House, but would never even get a vote in the Senate. If, by some miracle, enough Democrats, distressed over what they now see are terrible consequences of this law, vote to defund it, Obama will never sign that repeal. Unfortunately, Obamacare is here for now. It will take a Republican electoral tidal wave in the 2014 congressional elections and the election of a committed conservative as president in 2016 to relegate Obamacare to the footnote in history it deserves to be.

The wisest approach for now seems to be to find those parts of Obamacare that bother Democrats the most and focus on those. Take it apart, piece by piece. Make it untenable for it ever to come to fruition. It’s already crumbling from its own inadequacies; help it along that road so it never sees the light of day.

We are called to be both principled and wise.

I’m reminded of the concerns expressed by Whittaker Chambers to William F. Buckley back in the early 1950s as he viewed the tactics of Sen. Joe McCarthy in his fight against communism. Chambers was an ex-communist. He had been the most effective communicator of the evil of the communist system as he exposed Alger Hiss as an underground communist agent in the American government. Yet he could not support what McCarthy was doing. Why not? Here’s what Chambers wrote at the time:

Chambers at DeskAs the picture unfolds, the awful sense begins to invade you, like a wave of fatigue, that the Senator is a bore. . . . The Senator is not, like Truman, a swift jabber, who does his dirty work with a glee that is infectiously impish; nor, like F.D. Roosevelt, an artful and experienced ringmaster whose techniques may be studied again and again. . . .

The Senator is a heavy-handed slugger who telegraphs his fouls in advance. . . . But it is repetitious and unartful, and, with time, the repeated dull thud of the low blow may prove to be the real factor in his undoing. Not necessarily because the blow is low, or because he lacks heart and purpose, but because he lacks variety, and, in the end, simply puts the audience to sleep. . . .

It is more and more my reluctant opinion that he is a tactician, rather than a strategist; that he continually, by reflex rather than calculation, sacrifices the long view for the short pull. . . .

All of us would like to be his partisans, if only because all are engaged in the same war. . . . But, all of us, to one degree or another, have slowly come to question his judgment and to fear acutely that his flair for the sensational, his inaccuracies and distortions, his tendency to sacrifice the greater objective for the momentary effect, will lead him and us into trouble. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we live in terror that Senator McCarthy will one day make some irreparable blunder which will play directly into the hands of our common enemy and discredit the whole anti-Communist effort for a long while to come.

Chambers was prophetic. McCarthy blundered. Today the term “McCarthyism” is now used to discredit any real investigation into wrongdoing. I’m not suggesting that the conservatives in Congress are like McCarthy in his flair for sensationalism without regard to fact. They clearly have the facts on their side. There is the very real threat, however, that by using the wrong strategy, they may discredit the entire effort. Any government shutdown over defunding Obamacare will be jumped on gleefully by the administration and its media allies. Republicans will be blamed. How do I know? It’s happened in the past, we have all those low-information voters, and Republicans are often the worst communicators of their side of an argument. It’s astounding how ineffective they often are when they try to educate the public.

Therefore, I support all efforts to delay Obamacare’s implementation. I support the conservative senators’ attempts to enlighten the public about its overwhelming deficiencies and its blatant unconstitutional nature (despite the unthinkable ruling last year by the Supreme Court). Take on Obama, Obamacare, and all of his unconstitutional power grabs head-on—but be wise in how to do so. Don’t be tacticians who see only the short term; devise a long-term strategy for success.

Nothing to Fear?

The scandals continue apace, and it doesn’t seem as if they’re going away soon. A new one was added on in the past couple of days. More on that later. But first, let’s update what we know. Well, keep in mind the only reason we know anything is because whistleblowers and some reporters who still cling to the old idea of ferreting out the facts have overcome the fear of White House retaliation and come forward to present their evidence. If it were up to the White House and the various executive departments it oversees, we would remain in the dark. They want you to believe they are clueless about any wrongdoing, yet should receive total credit for anything that goes right:

Not Me

At the almost-daily press briefings and on news shows, members representing the administration have one talking point only:

Scandalous

On Benghazi, we haven’t heard as much in the last few days, but it’s still bubbling under the surface. Rumors are that more whistleblowers are about to tell their tales. That can’t be good for those who may have tried to put a cone of silence over their testimony:

Air Strike

One commentator, Andy McCarthy, reminds us of an overlooked part of the Benghazi timeline: President Obama and Hillary Clinton had a 10:00 p.m. phone call the night of the attack, which was just after receiving news that our ambassador had been killed. The next day the false story about the anti-Islam video became the “explanation” for the attack. Coincidence?

We also know now that the administration has identified at least five individuals in Libya who were responsible for carrying out the attack, but have done nothing to get them. Apparently, they are waiting until there is enough “evidence” to try them in a civilian court. Again, this betrays the administration’s worldview. Obama and his people, especially Eric Holder at the Justice Department, believe foreign terrorists are entitled to all the legal protections of American citizens. Wrong.

The IRS scandal currently dominates most of the news cycle for the scandals. I think that has something to do with how every citizen feels about that particular agency. We all know it can come after each one of us individually. There’s not a whole lot love there. And even though we’re told it’s not a partisan agency, facts seem to indicate otherwise:

Only a Left Wing

We also now know that on March 31, 2010, President Obama met with the anti-Tea Party IRS union chief at the White House. The very next day the “jihad” against Tea Party and other conservative organizations began. Another coincidence?

Lois LernerTea Parties across the nation held rallies yesterday outside IRS offices, protesting the unfair and illegal treatment they have received at its hands. The main person responsible for that treatment, Lois Lerner, is supposed to appear today before one of the congressional committees investigating the scandal. The word is that she has decided to take the Fifth Amendment, which is a little peculiar for someone who claims she has done nothing wrong. Now, I realize the Fifth Amendment is there to protect against incriminating oneself, but one has to wonder what she has to hide—or who else she might be protecting. What promises have been made to her to secure her silence? In the law, a prosecutor must provide evidence for a conviction, so taking the Fifth is an established practice; we are told not to consider anyone guilty until proven so. However, this is not yet a legal court case where those standards exist. There’s another court, that of public opinion, and we are free to believe what we wish about this tactic being used at this point.

Another reason to be concerned about how the IRS handles its business is that it is slated to oversee the implementation of Obamacare, a law frightening enough in itself, even before the IRS is attached to it:

Member of Tea Party

Under New Management

This whole thing has taken on monstrous proportions. How long will American citizens put up with it?

Villagers with Torches

James RosenThe tapping of the phones of the Associated Press is now an old story compared to recent revelations. Obama has never liked Fox News. Now we know, for a fact, that this organization also has been the subject of scrutiny. It started with the exposure of the Justice Department secretly reading the e-mails of James Rosen, one of Fox’s reporters. Rosen was merely doing what all reporters do—trying to find out information on a story. In this case, it had to do with the North Korea nuclear program. Something about that ticked off the powers-that-be. The DOJ somewhere found a judge who signed off on the secret reading of Rosen’s e-mails because he was called a “co-conspirator” in a criminal investigation.

This jarring news sent a chill through the entire press. Never in the history of this country, except perhaps after the passage of the Sedition Act of 1798, has a member of the press been accused formally of criminal activity simply for pursuing information. Then it came out that the DOJ had targeted other Fox employees as well; a further revelation is that the department also tapped into Fox phone lines. This is unprecedented.

Doing My Job

But don’t worry. We’re told the president is a great supporter of the First Amendment. All we have to fear is fear itself.

Nothing to Fear

This is a tyranny in the making. It needs to be stopped. Let the investigations proceed.

Conservative Critique of a Conservative Editorial Comment

National Review, that bastion of conservative thought, startled many this week, myself included, with an editorial that basically wrote Newt Gingrich out of the Republican nomination, and hinted strongly at a Romney endorsement. Many have critiqued that editorial—I think for good reason—but none has done so as excellently as one of NR’s own contributors, Andrew McCarthy.

You can find the critique here: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/286053/gingrich-s-virtues-andrew-c-mccarthy?pg=1

It’s a little lengthy, but well worth reading. I urge you to carefully consider what he says. It’s not an endorsement of Gingrich, nor any of the other contenders, but it effectively undercuts the rationale used in the NR editorial.

 

Has It Really Come to This?

Do I know for sure that Herman Cain is innocent of all the charges swirling around him at this moment? No, of course not. I wasn’t there to witness what really happened. Do I know that he is guilty of all these charges, or even one of them? No again. But as I ponder the media frenzy over these allegations—anonymous thus far and undocumented publicly—I seek truth. If Herman Cain is guilty, he should step aside; if he is innocent, he deserves our support in this trial by fire.

I do know this: his campaign didn’t handle the initial allegations well. They seemed to be caught off-guard without a solid response. Cain himself then did what I believe was a decent job of explaining the situation. Some have decided he changed his story on the settlement issue, but I can understand the difference in his mind between a legal settlement that required him to sign a confidentiality provision and a simple agreement for severance pay for an employee. Sometimes we make too much out of a minor semantic problem.

The other criticism I have of how the Cain people handled the controversy was the leap they took in blaming the Perry campaign for leaking the story to Politico. Again, as with the allegations against Cain, that could be the truth or it could not. The evidence for Perry’s people being involved is circumstantial; no direct evidence seems to exist. Cain and his team should not have rushed to judgment. By doing so, they put themselves in the same place as Jonathan Martin, the Politico reporter who “broke” this non-story.

I call it a non-story because it is somewhat like the wind—difficult to grasp due to lack of substance.

It sounded worse the other day when a conservative radio personality in Iowa said that Cain’s visit to his station made a couple of his female employees uncomfortable. Yesterday we learned what Cain had done. He had called one of the women “darling” while asking if she could make him a cup of tea. Horrors! Sexual harassment at its worst!

Has it really come to this? Is this what we now call sexual harassment?

Another internet outlet “broke” a story yesterday about a woman whom Cain pressured to come to his apartment and who woke up in his bed. It was all the buzz. Then came the retractions. No one actually saw them get into a taxi. She didn’t wake up in his bed. Etc., etc.

I think Andrew McCarthy at National Review has the right perspective on all of this. He starts off his commentary by stating he is not a staunch Cain supporter, but he is bristling over the lack of integrity in the media on this matter. He notes,

Politico’s initial story was woven out of insufficient evidence, anonymous sources, and vague allegations that—even if you construed every possible inference against Cain—would amount to an impropriety that outfits like Politico would find too trivial to cover like this if the culprit were a left-leaning Democrat.

McCarthy then researched Martin’s reporting on Obama, and here’s what he found:

I’m looking for any indication anywhere that Martin did any reporting like this to vet candidate Obama—Ayers, Dohrn, Wright, Rezko . . . ? I’ve found a couple of pieces in which he suggests that raising Ayers and Rezko was unworthy, desperation politics; and I’ve found an item in which he attacked “Joe the Plumber” after he . . . elicited Obama’s damaging “spread the wealth” comment. But nothing so far that suggests Martin thought Obama should be scrutinized over the sorts of things he seems content to see Cain’s candidacy scuttled over.

The networks—CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC—have gone overboard in their coverage. They’re attempting to turn this into a scandal of Watergate proportions. Why? I believe they hate this candidate and fear he actually could defeat their true love—the current president.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, offered Cain some good advice on a news program last night. He said Cain should announce a press conference, make his denials as public and as strenuous as possible, and then fifteen minutes later, put his campaign back into high gear, focusing on the issues. Don’t allow this to drag on. Stop responding to all the bits and pieces that continue to drip, drip, drip out of what may euphemistically be called news organizations and get back to work.

As I write this, here are the facts up to the minute: no evidence has been brought forth other than anonymous accusations that Cain is guilty of anything remotely criminal or even disgusting. No legal action ever was taken against him for anything he did at the National Restaurant Association. We have accusations that are akin to wind, but their effect is to leave Mr. Cain twisting in that media wind.

I understand why some people are fed up with the political arena. And the media.

Libya, the President, & Constitutional Authority

Moammar Qaddafi has been a renegade and terrorist supporter for decades. He deserves to be toppled. I want to see him go. I do have some issues, though, with how we have decided to handle this current Libyan crisis. My concerns are constitutional.

I could try to explain those concerns, but someone else has already done it so superbly that I will defer to him.

Andrew McCarthy, in a piece in National Review, lays out the best arguments I’ve seen for how to proceed constitutionally in a situation such as this. He makes clear distinctions between times when it is acceptable for a president to act on his own initiative and when he must first get congressional approval for military actions. I find his arguments persuasive, so I recommend you read what he has so carefully considered. You can go to his article here. I trust you will find it thoughtful and will appreciate his fidelity to constitutional principles as we try to discern the proper way to respond to the all-too-familiar chaos engulfing the Islamic world.