My appreciation for some of President Obama’s policies is a veritable wellspring of debate and disagreement with some of my more conservative friends. I frequently cite his soaring defense of American principles of government from his United Nations speech last year, which many Republicans half-heartedly agree with, but with a facial expression that seems to imply the argument would somehow be “more true” if it had been said by someone else.
There is, however, a strange conflict which has become more apparent in light of the Department of Justice collecting phone records and, for all intensive purposes, stalking the Associated Press. According to Gary Pruitt, the president and chief executive officer of the AP, the DOJ’s actions were unconstitutional in their infringement on the freedom of the press under the First Amendment.
During Obama’s address to the U.N., he defended the principle of free speech, including the “Innocence of Muslims” film despite his admission of it being “a crude and disgusting video.” In his own words: “I know there are some who ask why don’t we just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws. Our constitution protects the right to practice free speech. We do so because as diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities.”
“It is now well known,” said the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, “that the Obama justice department has prosecuted more government leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined, double the number of all such prior prosecutions.” For readers whose history is a bit hazy, the Espionage Act of 1917 was a fear-induced, shamelessly nationalist law from World War I that nearly makes the Patriot Act look constitutional by comparison.
The White House’s response to these allegations was similarly underwhelming when compared to Obama’s eloquence abroad. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that, “Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP.” As alternately put by an internet meme circulating online, “At no time did the Obama administration know what the Obama administration was doing.”
This, hints at the literal answer to this apparent discrepancy: there must actually be two Barack Obamas. For some reason, we’ve never seen them in the same place at the same time, but two separate look-a-likes are at this very moment, arm-wrestling in the Oval Office over who will speak at the next college graduation ceremony. Readers who’ve seen the movie “The Prestige” will know the kind of double act I’m talking about. One of them is a constitutionally-minded patriot, while the other is a reincarnation of Niccolo Machiavelli. In my humble opinion, the FBI should put more efforts into hunting down the imposter (whichever one that happens to be) and press appropriate charges.
Either this is the case, or our president is a pandering hypocrite like just about every other politician. At this point, the difference between the two scenarios isn’t especially important.