In September, 2013, President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats refused to knuckle under to yet another Republican extortion threat: Defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or we’ll shut down the government.
Republicans claimed it was Obama and Senate Democrats who refused to see reason and negotiate.
But then a Republican accidentally gave away the real reason for the shutdown.
“We’re not going to be disrespected,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) told the Washington Examiner. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
In short, Republicans–as admitted by Martlin Stutzman–were out to get “respect.” A member of the Crips or Bloods couldn’t have said it better.
The shutdown began on October 1, 2013–and ended 16 days later with even Republicans admitting it had been a failure.
President Obama, a former attorney, denounced House Republicans as guilty of “extortion” and “blackmail.” Had the President acted to prosecute such criminal conduct, the results would have been:
- Facing lengthy prison terms, those indicted Republicans would been forced to lawyer-up. That in itself would have been no small thing, since good criminal lawyers cost big bucks.
- Obsessed with their own personal survival, they would have found little time for engaging in the same thuggish behavior that got them indicted. In fact, doing so would have only made their conviction more likely.
- Those Republicans who hadn’t been indicted would have realized: “I could be next.” This would have produced a chilling effect on their willingness to engage in further acts of subversion and/or extortion.
- The effect on Right-wing Republicans would have been the same as that of President Ronald Reagan’s firing of striking air traffic controllers: “You cross me and threaten the security of this Nation at your own peril.”
True, some prosecuted Republicans might have beaten the rap. But first they would have been forced to spend huge amounts of time and money on their defense.
And with 75% of Americans voicing disgust with Congress, most of those prosecuted might well have been convicted.
It would have been a long time before Republicans again dared to engage in such behavior.
The ancient Greeks believed: “A man’s character is his fate.” It is Obama’s character–and America’s fate–that he is more inclined to conciliation than confrontation.
Richard Wolffe chronicled Obama’s winning of the White House in his book Renegade: The Making of a President. He noted that Obama was always more comfortable when responding to Republican attacks on his character than he was in making attacks of his own.
Obama came into office determined to find common ground with Republicans. But they quickly made it clear to him that they only wanted his political destruction.
At that point, he should have put aside his hopes for a “Kumbaya moment” and applied what Niccolo Machiavelli famously said in The Prince on the matter of love versus fear:
From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved than feared, or feared more than loved. The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved.
For it may be said of men in general that they are ungrateful, voluble, dissemblers, anxious to avoid danger and covetous of gain.
As long as you benefit them, they are entirely yours: they offer you their blood, their goods, their life and their children, when the necessity is remote. But when it approaches, they revolt….
And men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared; for love is held by a chain of obligations which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.
By refusing to vigorously prosecute acts of Republican extortion, President Obama has unleashed twin disasters upon himself and the United States:
First, Republicans have been encouraged to intensify their acts of aggression against him.
Their most recent act: Refusing to meet with federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland. Obama’s designated nominee to the Supreme Court after the February 13 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Kentucky United States Senator Mitch McConnell has flatly stated: There will be no Supreme Court hearings–not during regular business or a post-election lame-duck session.
Had Obama proceeded with indictments against Republican extortion in 2011 or 2013, McConnell–who supported the extortion attempts of those years–would now be desperately meeting with his lawyers.
Second, Republicans have unleashed their tactics of extortion against one another.
Donald Trump, their front-running Presidential candidate, has openly threatened to aim violence at Republican delegates who do not accept him as their nominee.
As Philip Klein, the managing editor of the Washington Examiner, recently wrote:
“Political commentators now routinely talk about the riots that would break out in Cleveland if Trump were denied the nomination, about how his supporters have guns and all hell could break loose, that they would burn everything to the ground. It works to Trump’s advantage to not try too hard to dispel these notions.”
Thus, those who submit to the aggression of criminals only encourage contempt–and increased aggression–from those same criminals.