There can be no question that the Obama administration is lawless. Senator Ted Cruz last month compiled a well-documented list of abuses, though even he missed a few — such as the administration’s refusal to properly consult Congress about its use of force in Libya and its refusal to enforce voter-integrity laws, among others. Now, of course, comes Obama’s almost certain violation of the law with regard to the Bergdahl case.
But imagine for a moment that Obama followed the law. It still is astonishing, as others have pointed out, that the administration would go to extraordinary lengths to release five terrorists in return for one American deserter, when it can barely lift a finger to convince Mexico, a purportedly friendly government, to release an American soldier who innocently lost his way. And the Bergdahl case isn’t the first time the administration has demonstrated — through its judgment calls, priorities, intellectual consistency, and basic moral sense — values that are positively alien to the American mainstream and American tradition.
This is an administration that wouldn’t provide aid to victims of Hurricane Isaac, but overrode Congress to provide $147 million in aid for the Palestinian version of Sesame Street and other projects. It is an administration more interested in helping secure voting power for felons than in securing it for soldiers. It favors conventional college students over at-risk students. For grade school, it prefers greater regimentation, even if it means greater segregation, if the alternative involves empowering minority parents with real choice.
Obama favors big donors over American workers. He puts fundraisers ahead of receiving intelligence reports about an ambassador’s death. And, as well noted, he plays golf (a great game, well worth playing!) in all sorts of situations when he should be minding his post.
In foreign policy, enemies such as Iran and Russia are treated with greater dignity than are key allies such as Great Britain, Israel, and Poland. Meanwhile, reformers in Iran were allowed to be butchered, but Islamists in Egypt were encouraged.
Furthermore, the understandable conservative concentration on the lawlessness involved in scandals such as Fast and Furious and the Benghazi atrocities has pushed somewhat to the background the underlying problem that the policies and decisions involved, even when not lawless, were almost unfathomably contrary to American interests, security, and common sense. Likewise, we must not forget, as we ponder the illegality of the Bergdahl swap and the mendacity of many of the explanations thereof, that the policy choices, too — the acts of trading “hostages” and negotiating with terrorists, the release of any of the highest-security prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, and the reasonableness in this specific instance of going to such great lengths for the sake of a deserter — run mind-bogglingly counter to the inclinations of ordinary Americans. As Andy McCarthy wrote at NRO last week, “When the commander-in-chief replenishes the enemy at a time when (a) the enemy is still attacking our forces and (b) the commander-in-chief has hamstrung our forces with unconscionable combat rules-of-engagement that compromise their ability to defend themselves, that is a profound dereliction of duty.”
We are suffering under a president, and minions thereof, who abhor the nation’s traditional celebrations of religious liberty, free speech, free markets, federalism/subsidiarity, limited government, official color-blindness, rights existent pre-government rather than “dol[ed] out” by government, and entrepreneurial reward. Obama appears to have contempt for the Constitution and for the idea that the president serves under it, and under the people.
For all these reasons, Barack Obama and his political team are profoundly dangerous. Their abuses cannot, must not, be countenanced.
— Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor for National Review. Follow him on Twitter: @QuinHillyer.