Obama Should Pardon Himself

Wednesday, 05 Jun 2013 04:40 PM

By Christopher Ruddy Newsmax

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Christopher Ruddy’s Perspective: The president should just give himself a full pardon, relieving himself of any criminality from known and unknown scandals, including but not limited to, the Benghazi affair, the Fox News affair, and the IRS affair.

By doing so the president can spare the country a lot of grief — "a long national nightmare" as Gerald Ford called the Watergate horror — and perhaps with the stroke of his pen save the Republican Party from itself!

I have no idea if constitutionally this president, any president, can give themselves a pardon.

Admittedly, it’s silly for me to suggest the president pardon himself. But the silly season has duly arrived, so why not?

The president giving himself a pardon is about as hilarious as all these viral emails floating through the web suggesting the president should be impeached.

Impeached for what?

Don't get me wrong. I believe what happened at Benghazi is a serious matter. There may have even been a cover-up of how the administration handled the crisis.

In the IRS matter crimes have been committed. A liberal group ProPublica, says that the IRS leaked to them confidential tax documents filed by conservative groups. This alone is a crime.

And then there is the Fox News matter.

To think that James Rosen, one of the most respected Washington correspondents, was engaged in a criminal act simply by reporting on a story involving North Korea, warranting surveillance of his phone and email activities — is so over the top even the liberal media establishment has been shocked.

So rather than impeach the president, for crimes no one has any evidence of, the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate should hold serious hearings into these matters.

If crimes appear to be uncovered by such probes, they should be referred to the Justice Department.

If the Justice Department won't act, a special prosecutor should be appointed.

But calls for impeachment are quite premature and will backfire.

Along these lines and instructive for Republicans would be Jonathan Alter's new book, "The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies."

It's the best written account I have read explaining why Obama, against great odds, defeated Mitt Romney.

Reading such a book could be very helpful for Republicans hoping to score victories in 2014 and the big prize in 2016.

While Alter has pro-Obama sympathies, "The Center Holds" is far from flattering about the president.

Alter, with real insider Obama sources, describes a White House that is governed in a chaotic fashion. Anecdotes suggest the blind are often leading the blind. The president simply is not a strong manager and doesn't like interacting with staff, VIPs or even the general public.

It's so bad, Alter reveals, Obama hasn't even spoken to some members of his own cabinet in more than a year's period.

His relationship with former President Bill Clinton was so strained that in the immediate aftermath of the bin Laden raid, no one in the White House had Clinton's phone number to call him.

The president, Alter argues, is a "normal person" and not a loner. He enjoys the company of friends and family. But he is not a typical politician. Alter acknowledges that such a persona is "problematic for a president." I agree with this sentiment.

One would think that a president who's not a strong manager in a time of economic crisis, coupled with many failed promises, would have lost the last election. In fact Obama won with a pretty good margin.

Alter recounts a scene after the devastating 2010 losses for the Democrats. Obama was in a funk. His political strategist David Axelrod met with him and said there was a silver lining to all of this. The president seemed surprised.

Axelrod told Obama that the Republicans would overreach in their criticisms of him, and that these would backfire, leaving him in a better position in 2012 to win reelection. Axelrod plotted to define the Republican Party as being comprised of two elements, "the Martini party" of rich, country club Republicans, and a grass roots led by tea-party crazies.

Alter chronicles some of the wackiness that has emanated from some extremists. The demonization of Obama has not been accepted by most Americans. Some of it has been unbelievable. I won't repeat the smears here.

As a political adversary of the president's, I may disagree with him on a host of policy issues. But attacks on his wife, his children, even his own parents, have been despicable.

Those who speak to people regularly outside of the Republican bubble realize that many Americans like Obama personally and think he is a very positive role model for young people, including African-American youth, and an example of a dedicated family man.

The 2012 exit polls proved that Obama won because Americans thought that he could relate to people like them more than the Republican candidate. Emotionally voters were for Obama. Logically voters wanted to vote Republican.

Obama has also outflanked the Republicans on their trump card issue, national security.

On national security matters, the president has a strong track record. He kept many Bush administration veterans, promoted them, and expanded on Bush policies.

The most riveting account in Alter's book was of the internal White House discussions on the president's National Security Council in deciding to launch the raid into Pakistan to kill bin Laden.

Alter says that almost every single member of the president's NSC opposed a military strike or were on the fence. Only CIA director Leon Panetta was "gung ho."

All of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Bob Gates advised the president not to make the raid.

The internal discussions were tense and the downside for the president was enormous. His top aides also knew that if the mission failed his reelection chances would likely go up in smoke, as did Jimmy Carter's when American helicopters crashed in the Iranian desert.

Obama alone made the decision to go ahead with the raid, convening senior aides in the Diplomatic Reception Room to tell them, "It's a go. We're gonna do the raid."

When top aides suggested delaying the raid so it would not interfere with the White House Correspondent's Dinner, an emotional Obama shouted, "Stop! I want everyone to know that we are not delaying because of the White House Correspondent's Dinner!"

Bob Gates, appointed defense secretary by President Bush, stayed on under Obama. He said after the successful raid, "My Republican friends don't like to hear it, but that was the gutsiest decision I ever saw a president make."

The president has made a lot of good decisions and appointments in this area. He kept on FBI director Robert Mueller, appointed by Bush, and continued him beyond his term. His recent appointment of former U.S. Attorney James Comey, a Republican, demonstrates that he has a sound approach to national security matters.

With all of this said, I find it hard to believe the president himself was orchestrating activities of the IRS, covering up the Benghazi matter, or telling Eric Holder to bug Fox News.

But Alter's book paints a picture of a White House run by inexperienced aides, many liberal acolytes of the president.

As we discovered during Watergate, overzealous aides often do things in the name of the president that can be quite damaging to the president himself.

Defeating Obama's agenda in Congress, electing a Republican Senate in 2014 and a Republican president in 2016, will have to begin with Republicans acknowledging who Obama really is, why the American people like him personally, and finding a new approach on the issues that can make them a majority party again.

Editor’s Note: Click here to order Jonathan Alter's new book, "The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies."

Christopher Ruddy is CEO and editor of Newsmax Media Inc. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.

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