Two events in Europe this week remind Americans of what they may be losing and how our politics threaten to destroy our culture.
The first was the burning of Notre Dame, widely seen as a metaphor for the decline of Judeo-Christian tradition and morality in the West. The second was the comments of Michelle Obama, made in London.
Decorum, decency, and grace once dictated that prior presidents (and their spouses), particularly when abroad, refrained from criticizing their successors. No more. Michelle Obama, in an interview in London with Stephen Colbert, said that because of Mr. Trump, America is currently living through a “dark chapter” in its history. Mrs. Obama also stressed that “the presidency does not change who you are, it reveals who you are.”
Mrs. Obama’s unintentional irony was striking. David E. Bernstein, a brilliant professor at the George Mason University law school, in 2015, wrote a book called “Lawless,” in which he relentlessly exposed the myriad ways the Obama administration had undermined the rule of law and “presided over one constitutional debacle after another — Obamacare; unauthorized wars in the Middle East; attempts to strip property owners, college students, religious groups, and conservative political activists of their rights; and many more.”
Just as Bernstein demonstrated the former president’s ignoring of Congress when it refused to enact his initiatives, by either implementing policies through executive orders or refusing to carry out his oath faithfully to enforce the law, Senator Ted Cruz, in 2014, listed 76 “lawless” “power grabs by Obama.” These included, among many others, suspending statutory deadlines, using the Internal Revenue Service to harass conservative groups, illegally selling guns to criminals in “operation fast and furious,” and illegally requiring persons of faith to submit to the contraceptive mandates in Obamacare.
Senator Cruz concluded that “In more than two centuries of our nation’s history, there is simply no precedent for the White House wantonly ignoring federal laws and asking others to do the same.” Other analysts have noted that the Obama administration’s actions were reversed by the United States Supreme Court to a greater extent than any other.
We are on the cusp of seeing unfold the greatest of these wanton acts of the Obama administration, the attempt to spy on and undermine the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump, in cooperation with the operations of the Clinton Campaign, through the use of the Obama Justice Department and intelligence services. We do not yet know the extent of involvement of Mr. Obama himself, but there are already hints he was aware of this misconduct, and it is likely it could not have been accomplished without his acquiescence.
Reflecting on the general decline of morality and religion in our time, Patrick Buchanan has asked “How can a nation, many of whose elites are so ashamed of its history and heritage and deplorable other half — as ‘racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic ... and bigoted’ — credibly claim to be a shining city on a hill or a light unto the nations?”
Democrats in Congress, who have sought for months to conceal or belittle the discoveries regarding the misconduct of the Obama Justice and intelligence officials, have now turned their energies toward an examination of President Trump’s finances, demanding his tax returns, and even issuing subpoenas to a bank that financed some of his entrepreneurial efforts.
These activities on the part of the president’s political foes, which violate the mandates of the Ninth and Tenth Commandments themselves, since they involve bearing “false witness” and coveting the goods of one’s neighbors, substantiate Buchanan’s concerns.
Michelle Obama is right that we are passing through a “dark” period, but that darkness is a result of the previous administration. The president’s enemies’ shameful efforts to cast obloquy on him for crass political ends deserve to be condemned. Those who violated the law and obstructed justice in the election of 2016 and its aftermath, perpetrating the hoax of Russian collusion, deserve to be prosecuted and punished. Once this is done, and once the American people see through the mendacity and obfuscation of the president’s media and Congressional critics, the American people, understanding the success that the Trump presidency has achieved in reducing regulation and taxes, promoting economic growth, and restoring the rule of law to the judiciary and the executive branches, will, in 2018, reward this administration with a resounding reelection victory.
President Trump has become even more than his supporters hoped. He has withstood the misdeeds of his foes, he has grown in the office, some restoration of virtue in our government has been accomplished, the best of our civilization can still be preserved, and we can come closer to reclaiming our role as a beacon unto the nations.
Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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