by Whitney Pitcher
The late, great Margaret Thatcher once said, “being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to say you are, you aren’t”. The inverse statement is true as well–if you have to say you aren’t, you are. Over the last several months, there seems to be a pattern of denial from President Obama. This goes beyond his denial of knowledge on Benghazi talking point changes, IRS targeting of conservative groups, and other scandals. These are denials not of what he’s done, but who he is and to whom he is compared.
1. I’m not Dick Cheney
In an interview with Charlie Rose that will appear later tonight, President Obama denies recent comparisons to the former Vice President:
“Some people say, ‘Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he’s, you know, Dick Cheney.’ Dick Cheney sometimes says, ‘Yeah, you know? He took it all lock, stock, and barrel,’” the president told interviewer Charlie Rose in the exchange recorded Sunday, according to excerpts of the transcript published by BuzzFeed. “My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances?”
President Obama denies comparisons to Dick Cheney, yet through double negative rhetoric confirms he does support “intelligence gathering” that may may mean that individuals’ privacy could be violated. Additionally, while the purpose may not be to prevent terrorism, he supports collecting massive amounts of data on Americans (and sharing it within government at all levels) when it comes to the issue of healthcare, immigration, and education. The candidate who ran as a proponent of civil liberties is hardly that anymore. In fact, polls show just the opposite.
2. Jay Carney’s Denial of the Obama comparison to Richard Nixon
Last month, following questions from the White House press corps surrounding the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the handling of Benghazi (among other questionable behavior), press secretary Jay Carney denied comparisons to Nixon.
On second thought, perhaps President Obama is right. He isn’t Nixon. President Nixon took responsibility for his arguably less corrupt actions.
3. I’m not a socialist
In an interview with the Spanish language channel Univision in late 2012, President Obama denied that his ideology mirrored that of the Castro brothers and the late Hugo Chavez. While America has certainly not suffered the same ill fate of these countries mired in socialism for years, the President has aimed to bring more and more industries under greater control of the State–from the auto bailout early in his presidency to the government control of healthcare under Obamacare to his student loan takeover. Additionally, he a signed into law a massive stimulus bill and has a strong desire to put a heavier tax burden on the rich.
4. I’m not a dictator
5. I’m not an emperor
Denials #4 and #5 are essentially the same with slightly different wording. In a press conference in March, President Obama responded to a reporter’s question about working with Congress by essentially bemoaning that he “was not a dictator” and could not dictate to Congress to “do the right thing”. Just a few weeks earlier, he quipped during a Google hangout, that he was “not emperor of the United States” and that his job was to “execute laws that are passed”. President Obama has regularly criticized Congress for not doing his bidding, but isn’t that part of the “checks and balances” that he supposedly supports (at least when he is trying to deny the aforementioned comparison to Dick Chaney)? President Obama has made it clear that when it is possible he will try to govern by going around Congress. Additionally, while he may claim to be a “dictator”, he has signed legislation into law that dictates an awful lot to the American people and businesses. Looking at Obamacare alone, Americans are mandated to purchase health insurance, most employers are required to provide it, and all are required to cover contraceptives. Would the President prefer to be called a “mandator”?
What is particularly interesting is that four of these five denials came in response to reasonably direct questions posed by a friendly press corps. The press is even asking the President about these common perceptions of the American people. Denial is not just a river in the Christian persecuting, war-on-women country of the Arab Spring. It is a defensive mechanism employed by the President when his rhetoric consistently doesn’t match his actions.