So we have reached the aporia of the Right’s main argument against President Obama, wherein their arguments are deconstructing themselves via their own rhetoric undermining their claims.
Republicans call the President a dictator and say his boot is on their necks, he is stomping on the Constitution, he is an “imperial” president. And yet all of them remain free to say these things in public, on TV. There isn’t even any backlash to speak of.
Leading this charge is the still bitter Sarah Palin, whose behavior post 2008 loss makes John McCain’s look magnanimous and mature. Palin posited that after Obama left Americans for “destroyed”, the press finally woke up. Palin seems to miss the fact that she is still free after all of these many years of traitor-adjacent behavior to write and speak whatever she pleases, no matter how egregious, including her attempt to portray criticism of her “speech” (her gun sights over Democratic districts prior to the Arizona massacre) as “blood libel”.
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No brownshirts have come for Palin. Yet she wrote this on her Facebook page, as if Obama were Hitler, just as elected Republicans across the country inaccurately portray him:
What? Lamestream calls for empathy, even outrage, for a First Amendment violation that’s on par with all the abuse we’ve brought to your attention as Obama stomps on our Constitution. You’ve IGNORED us, you’ve marginalized us, you’ve left us for “destroyed.” But when Obama’s boot is on YOUR neck you finally wake the h*ll up and cry foul? Good Lord.
Then she linked to this Breitbart article bemoaning the loss of freedom under this President, as if George W. Bush’s “free speech zones” and silencing of the Dixie Chicks had never happened.
They were for it before they were against it, apparently. (According to the very conservative ACLJ’s press release, the press actually had a “significant” First Amendment and free press victory today as the Obama administration pulled the plug on a newsroom “monitoring” system – aka, studying “perceived station bias”, a thing conservatives are very against, as you might imagine.)
A dictator would never have allowed Sarah Palin to attack him while on foreign soil, during a time of war and while the country faced a huge financial crisis, no less. This is why the foreign press called Sarah Palin a traitor, while our own press continues to give her and her fellow Republicans (it says a lot about the party that Palin is no longer the most outrageous attack dog) access as if the things she says are not outrageous.
“And now she turns not only against the fibre and backbone of her country, but against its democratically elected President… “
That was in 2010, and Sarah Palin and the GOP have hardly let up since then.
While the right gets Martin Bashir fired for his suggestion that Sarah Palin might not think policy issues were just like slavery if she actually knew anything about slavery, when the Dixie Chicks said they were ashamed that Bush was from Texas, their music was shut out by mainstream outlets around the country:
Music superstars the Dixie Chicks are finding out that criticizing President Bush’s plans for war in Iraq can cost you air play, big time.
The Right has a very selective sense of free speech and free press.
And while the finer points of their failed arguments can be endlessly mocked, it really comes down to one thing. If Obama really were the dictator they accuse him of being, none of them would be free to continue accusing him of being a dictator.
If you are allowed to have public discussions about executive branch decisions with which you disagree, and you are not being shunned for it or fired over it, then you are most likely not living under a dictator.
Living under a dictator would be more like it was under George W. Bush, when even “liberal Hollywood” shrank in fear of being accused of being unpatriotic. So they turned their backs on Michael Moore’s March 23, 2003 Oscar speech — and on film sets in the weeks that followed, hard core liberals expressed disdain for the disrespect for our president, calling Moore’s behavior uncivilized (public shaming is a good silencer). I was there.
What was Moore’s crime? He spoke out against the war Bush had just started, just days prior. This is what he said that caused such a disruption — compare this to what Republicans say every single day about a President who did NOT lead us into a war on false pretenses. Moore referenced the way Bush was not really elected (a fact, he was appointed by the United States Supreme Court), and that the war was based on fictitious reasons (also true):
We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious President.
We — We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it’s the fictition of duct tape or the fictitious [sic] of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you.
And any time you’ve got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.
So it’s odd that Republicans keep accusing President Obama of being exactly what George W. Bush was in reality — a fake president, with dictator-esque tendencies. Under Bush, this country edged closer to a state of fascism, in which the people were kept in line through constant fear. People were arrested for wearing t-shirts that criticized Bush. ABC reported:
The Bush administration has agreed to pay $80,000 to a husband and wife who were ejected from a presidential rally because of their anti-Bush T-shirts. The settlement ends a suit brought by a Texas couple and the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming the couple’s First Amendment rights were violated when they were arrested and removed from a taxpayer-funded event featuring President Bush because their shirts read “Love America, Hate Bush” and “Regime Change Starts at Home.”
From terror alert levels to arrests for wearing the wrong t-shirt near the President to having your business ruined because you spoke out against what turned out to be an illegal war, things were bleak under Bush.
It turns out that Moore was correct. A boot on your neck? PBS reported, “And Moore was booed, stalked and threatened for it. He had to get a security detail to protect him from the death threats (some of which were encouraged by the media), and he claims that Homeland Security scratched up his Oscar at the airport on the way home.”
When you are openly criticizing the President of the United States and not too subtly trying to incite an overthrow of the government because you are still bitter that you lost to him, and no one comes to arrest you, the President is not a dictator. When you are still invited to have a reality TV show funded in part by the taxpayers of this country, the President is not a dictator. When you are still deemed to be civilized company and not being shunned for daring to suggest that you oppose something the President is doing, the President is not a dictator.
That is one fact of which you can be sure: President Obama is not a dictator and he is not silencing dissent. The proof is the fact that Sarah Palin is not in Gitmo. She is, in fact, making a living off of taxpayer money that Obama could easily put a stop to if he were that kind of petty, thin-skinned dictator — were he a Chris Christie type, for example, or a Nixon, or a Bush.
Note: For the fact challenged who got Martin Bashir fired, I did not say Sarah Palin should be in Gitmo. I am against Gitmo, just as Bashir is against slavery.
Listen to Sarah on the PoliticusUSA Pod on The Daily newsletter podcast here.
Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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