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Obama's Supreme Court Slam Lowers Bar

January 29, 2010
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Saul Alinsky, the spiritual leader of the left in his infamous book, “Rules for Radicals” taught the tactic, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

President Obama picked the wrong target in his State of the Union campaign speech and spouted drivel in an attempt to freeze, personalize, and polarize a Supreme Court decision.

It is unprecedented for a commander in chief to express pointed criticism of a specific Supreme Court decision in a State of the Union address.

Facing six of the nine justices, who were sitting right up front, Obama said, “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law, reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections."

The president was referring to the court’s recent landmark decision striking down limits on corporate political speech. I was an attorney of record who filed arguments in that case.

Halfway through the phrase in the president’s speech, Justice Samuel Alito started to shake his head from side to side to express his disagreement. Then he mouthed the words, "It's not true," invoking the memory of Congressman Joe Wilson, who bravely shouted, "You lie" during a pseudo State of the Union speech last year.

Alito didn’t shout, but his mouthed words may be even louder than Wilson’s, when you consider Obama’s extraordinary demagoguery.

First of all, the court did not overturn "a century of law." The legislation the court struck down was seven years old, the ill-conceived McCain-Feingold campaign finance law adopted during the Bush administration.

The decision merely restores First Amendment rights to citizens who organize themselves into groups, such as nonprofit organizations, as well as corporations and unions, saying that these entities are entitled to the same protection as individual speech.

The law Obama may have been referring to was legislation Congress passed in the early 20th century that prohibited direct corporate contributions to political campaigns. That law was not a part of the case the president referred to, and remains valid.

The court invalidated the law that stopped corporations and unions from spending money from their treasuries, rather than their political action committees, for advertising to advocate for or against a federal candidate in the period immediately before the election.

As it existed, the McCain-Feingold law could ban books, films, television shows, and ads, while exempting Keith Olbermann, and that is what lawyers trying to persuade the court to keep the law intact admitted on the record in the case.

Is nobody advising the president as to what is and what is not presidential?

Not only have presidents not criticized a specific decision of the Supreme Court in State of the Union addresses but also the high court rarely is even discussed even by presidents who clash with the court.

Even President Franklin D. Roosevelt, one of Obama’s supposed role models, never brought up the Supreme Court in any of his numerous State of the Union messages. This was a president with lots of heated disputes with the judicial branch.

Richard Nixon publicly led a crusade against the Earl Warren-led Supreme Court, but Nixon never used the State of the Union to voice his criticism toward the justices on the highest bench in the nation.

From a Hollywood theatrical point of view, Obama has lost his celebrity luster. His speech patterns and inflections that used to be fresh and persuasive now are predictable and flat.

The public has developed an immunity to the president’s souring rhetoric and has learned that his actions have not matched his words.

He is like the proverbial guest who stayed too long at the party.

Obama spent his first year in office and his political capital to promote a government takeover of healthcare. Yet in his speech, it was only a single item in a massive catalog of more campaign promises.

Speaking of campaign promises, the president made promises that he knows he can’t possibly deliver with the current leaders in Congress. Does anyone really think that the American people will see capital gains tax cuts for small businesses, nuclear energy, off-shore drilling and, wait for this one: earmark reform. These promises come from the same mouth that promised on eight occasions that healthcare negotiations would be televised on C-SPAN.

Yet, you can bet the Obama administration will push hard for his left-wing agenda items, such as the so-called healthcare reform, global warming taxes and regulations, gays in the military, more and more spending and, of course, treating terrorists like shoplifters.

Not a word in his speech backtracking from the absurd policy that gives enemy combatants with knowledge of planned terrorist acts the right to remain silent.

Maybe that’s why one subject was almost ignored in an overly long speech, the overwhelming need for national security.

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Copyright © 2010
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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