Is The Time of the Lame Duck Upon You (Pres. Obama)?

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By Kerwin Holmes, Jr.

I fear that those who have been utilizing President Barack Hussein Obama to push their most desired reforms are already through with their chess piece, and that should be disconcerting.

I say this partly because of the fact that the President included among his list of favorite things to have happened during the year of 2015 his change of marriage laws through the Judicial Branch of our government.  Now, before I go any further, as an American and a historian (trained to a bachelor’s degree so far) we all should be confused at that preceding sentence.  The Judicial Branch was formed specifically not to change laws nor to add new laws.  The Judicial Branch was formed to determine whether changes in laws and any new laws truly conformed to already existing laws, and ultimately the United States Constitution.  This is ultimately why historical interpretations of legislative texts matter, why we needed the 13th-15th amendments instead of relying on our change of heart or ahistorical reading of parts in the Constitution affirming chattel slavery, and why many lawyers who eventually do become judges often start off their education in the same way that I have started mine (in a History-major bachelor’s degree).

So, our president quite literally stated that one of his favorite moments was when he encouraged the highest court of the USA to break the highest law of the USA by stepping outside of its bounds.  The Legislative Branch makes laws or changes them (look up the italicized word when you get the chance).  But now, we are left with a mess as erotic liberty, liberty of assembly, and religious liberty head toward a constitutional collision course that has many Americans very sober-minded.

But now, the President of the United States has opened up a can of worms once again by issuing statements about gun control.  Earlier this week, he has made his most emotional appeal to date on the issue, an issue that he also has made very politically divisive.  But now, it seems that the tides have shifted.  The President isn’t really in any position to make any new legislative moves on the gun control.  His one doable promise of action is an executive order to work on enforcing laws that he, as head of the Executive Branch of government, should have already been enforcing.  And now, as his term comes to a close and the President struggles to maintain an easy exit for his two-term legacy, his own party stands divided over his proposed reforms to the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution.  Now, when an American citizen comes at our President (or any major politician) with facts that the news media does not consistently blast at us, it throws many people off guard.  I’m not faulting the President for being thrown off guard when this happened on the issue of gun control, but I am concerned about his lack to provide any credible answer by

a) validating the data he was given

b)recovering ground by reasserting the power of his position through equally validated data, and

c) pushing forward with his own practical and reasonable solution by correctly identifying fixable problems and the specific ways they need to be fixed.

Performing all of these things is necessary in any debate.  We learn it from day 1 of our childhood whilst bartering with our parents about why we should go to the theme park to see the man dressed like a rabbit because the rabbit is our favorite television character and we’ve been such a good boy and we as a family haven’t had a vacation in two whole years…see?   We may not do it well, but as anybody who is around children comes to know, we certainly learn how to do it well enough for the person we are trying to convince.  How long has President Obama been speaking to the American people?  How long has President Obama been speaking to informed American people?

So why then is the President without considerable support from Democrats and Republicans on the gun reform issue?  Why does the President shed tears about saving “just one” of the persons lost in last year’s gun violence while at the same time giving his pro-life opponents the rhetorical fuel needed to point out his moral inconsistencies?  (Planned Parenthood reported over 300,000 babies aborted in a single year, 1 out of 2 being a potential woman.)  That kind of stumps the saving “just one” and “women’s rights” arguments rather coldly.  And also, why does the President now want to push a “new” charge against gun violence…by pledging to enforce laws that he should have already been working to enforce?  I’m not even going to bring in Eric Holder on this one.

The “lame duck” saying refers to a sitting President who is on his last term year and facing a new election that is sure to remove him from the presidency.   Because the President’s rivals and supporters all know that he will be leaving, they will spend the majority of their time forming new alliances with whoever is seen to be the most obvious successor to the office so that their own goals can continue (or begin) to be achieved once the President is gone.  And that may be what we are seeing now.

The immigration reform that President Obama has promised never came, and his last (and very polarizing) speech on the matter didn’t help things.  President Obama promised to end the Afghan-American and Iraqi-American conflicts, yet we find ourselves in an even murkier situation than we faced before with growing knowledge that American-trained ground forces all over the regions of conflict are defecting, and in Syria specifically such forces may have only numbered in the dozens at its height.  Even more, President Obama in the past referred to ISIS as a Junior Varsity team (as in not to be taken too seriously) among global terrorist threats against the USA.  President Obama also claimed ISIS to being globally contained within Syria and Iraq (though it was already known that they have a clear presence, though smaller, in the extreme north of eastern Libya).  And that was just hours before the November 2015 Paris attacks.

*I am still wondering whether we should be effectively judging the success of ISIS, an entire entity guided by philosophy and theology, entirely on geographical terms.  My point is that ideology potentially spreads rapidly within reach.  And when ISIS fighters scream ayat from the Quran or verses from their chosen Hadith scriptures that are available to anyone with access to internet or effectively published material…that reach can be considerable.  Especially when ISIS is fundamentally and essentially powered by ideology, and not polemology.

And now, we may even see people supporting the new Democratic candidates voicing their own points of contentions with President Obama’s policies.  This no doubt is not helped by the Presidents move to press upon enforcing existing gun laws with the specter of his own long-awaited reforms looming in the background.   Especially when the trained lawyer who once taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago gets the branches of government mismatched in their abilities within their constitutionally-instituted roles.  The growing trend is that more people are growing contemptuous towards the President’s promises and the honeymoon phase that may have been reignited among his political allies on June 26, 2015 is already beginning to wane.  And this should worry us because the President hasn’t been known in the international world as a man whose word holds the most water.  When that begins to happen at home, even while President Obama is still the president, the result could be a deflation of morale in certain areas that we will be subject to see only by living long enough to see it.  And the way that the world’s affairs are going so far, I shudder to find out how that will turn out.

But perhaps, the greatest sign of the lame duck for President Obama’s presidency isn’t the frustration from his unkept promises or his push for enforcing gun control, but the overwhelming apathy toward his current pledges of executive effort from both sides of the Congressional audience.

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