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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shameless Political Freeloading

Shameless Political Freeloading

Maybe I am naïve, but has there ever before been a sitting President who has so blatantly spent millions of tax dollars for clearly political purposes?  Sure there have been times that presidents have tiptoed over the line and made political remarks while on true presidential business, but I just can’t recall such political arrogance by any President, Republican or Democrat, during my lifetime. 

I remember a number of occasions when the Nixon White House announced that the Republican National Committee would pick up the tab for a political excursion by President Nixon in Air Force One.  I’m pretty sure the Democratic National Committee did the same thing for President Kennedy and other presidents.  Both parties endeavored to be circumspect in not using public funds for private political purposes.

But this President is shameless.  There’s virtually no attempt to camouflage recent political junkets to the Midwest and now to the South.  And it’s not just air, protection, and other lavish expenses, but even the construction of a kingly land yacht for his Excellency to be carted around in.  There’s been talk in the past of “an imperial Presidency” but past Presidents were pikers compared to the present occupant of the White House.  The Obamas act as if they are the King and the Queen of the United States, not the President and the First Lady.

Outlandish flights on Air Force One to New York City for a sightseeing flyover, extravagant taxpayer paid visits by a huge entourage to Spain hosted by the First Lady, etc.  Nothing, it seems is too great a taxpayer expenditure to accommodate the desires of the first family.

I certainly don’t begrudge treating the President of the United States in a way that is respectful of the office he holds, but there is a difference between living in grandeur and living as the temporary occupant of the White House as a guest of its citizens.  George Washington and those who came after him would not approve.

Somewhere, someplace we have lost the idea of public office holders as public servants.  Public office holders, the President included, are not to be masters of the people, but their servants.  The respect and dignity accorded office holders is for the important position they hold, not the man or woman who happens to be temporarily holding the position.

It is said that King George III observed of George Washington that he would be a great man indeed if he willingly surrendered the office of President.  It was a selfless act that set the standard for limiting personal power.  Voluntarily stepping down as President set an important precedent for service as President of the United States.  It was not until Franklin D. Roosevelt breached that practice that it became necessary to enact the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution limiting Presidents to two terms.  Because Washington voluntarily stepped down, he was known as a modern day Cincinnatus.  Cincinnatus was a Roman statesman who gained fame for his selfless devotion to the Roman republic in a time of crisis and for giving up the reins of power when the crisis was over.  Because he surrendered his power he is forever remembered as a great statesman just as Washington is remembered in the same vein today.

The great irony life is that those who brag on themselves, talk highly of themselves, flaunt respect for custom and the law, and lecture others, garner less respect and honor than those humble public servants like George Washington, who revered the rule of law and acknowledged his own limitations.  Where is that man or woman today who understands that public service is a privilege and an honor bestowed on them by their fellow citizens?  Americans grant this opportunity to serve not because the public servant is better than they are, after all Americans are equal under the law, including the person holding the highest office in the land.  President Obama does himself a great disservice by flaunting custom, bending the rules, and generally ignoring any practice or any law that gets in his way of conducting the most imperial presidency in the history of the United States.  It is no wonder that his popularity continues to shrink.  And soon, when he departs the office to which he has been entrusted I doubt he will understand why the American people have rejected his imperial style, his lecturing attitude, his mockery of opponents, and his hard left ideology.  The wisdom of humility and the exceptional nature of the United States of America is apparently far beyond his comprehension.

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