Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared in Townhall.com on February 17, 2015.
“The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.”
So declared Barack Obama just a few weeks ago after a declamation that our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq functionally are over. Apparently his senior advisors didn’t get the message.
“The world is exploding all over,” said retiring Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last summer. And the explosions continue: The Boko Haram are now attacking into Chad and The Cameroon in addition to wreaking havoc in northern Nigeria. Elsewhere in Africa, from the Central African Republic to Burundi, incidences of grotesque violence are almost as frequent as to be commonplace.
ISIS continues (and celebrates) its campaign of atrocities against Christians, little children, women in general and anyone else it deems prey in the moment. Israel’s vulnerability is more acute than ever. Whatever agreement has been reached between Russia and Ukraine, the situation roils and no serious observer believes the crisis is over.
At home? Mr. Obama last month claimed that “our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.”
The selective use of statistics is common to politicians of both parties, granted. But Mr. Obama’s declamation of good news is especially hollow. As the president of the Gallup organization wrote just last week, “Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed … The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”
Surely, Mr. Obama knows this. And if he doesn’t, his ignorance should be troubling to all Americans.
This is the context in which the President asserts that America is “freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It's now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.”
This chest-inflating assertion of “Invictus”-like confidence (“I am the master of my fate!”) is so ludicrous as to call into question Mr. Obama’s claim to be a serious person. He might once have longed for the dreams of his father; now, his dreams border on simply the absurd.
But there’s something else at play.
David Axelrod was Mr. Obama’s senior campaign advisor and occupied a top role in the White House. In his new political memoir, he asserts that in 2008, then-candidate Obama lied when he told Rick Warren, in a widely-watched interview, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”
According to Axelrod, Mr. Obama left the stage upset with his own comments about marriage, tacitly admitting his own hypocrisy by saying, “I’m just not very good at bulls------g.”
Yet as TIME Magazine notes, “As a state senate candidate in 1996, Obama filled out a questionnaire saying ‘I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages’.”
However, Kerry Eleveld, formerly a reporter for the avowedly pro-homosexual paper The Advocate and who has covered Mr. Obama for years, writes that “the candidate voters witnessed never seemed particularly tortured by his stance. Between 2004 and 2008, Obama stated his opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for one man-one woman marriage repeatedly, robotically, and without flinching on numerous occasions.” Eleveld concludes:
What Barack Obama really believed in his heart and when, we may never know—even in his eventual retelling of the history. But Obama the candidate undoubtedly made the right political calculation in 2008 and then again in 2012, when he and his advisors reached the exact opposite conclusion from the one they had four years earlier: This time around, he must embrace marriage equality in order to win.
Axelrod backs up this account: “Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as (Obama) ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a ‘sacred union’.”
What is most troubling is that if Mr. Obama believed in same-sex “marriage” all along, his citation of his espoused Christian faith as the basis of his opposition to it is particularly cynical. “God is in the mix” – was He merely a rhetorical tool used to assuage Evangelical and conservative Catholic voters for the President?
That many politicians lie, and do so consciously, surely is one of the reasons why most Americans are so cynical about their political leaders. Yet Mr. Obama, by invoking divine sanction for the lifelong, covenantal union of one-man, one-woman marriage, seems to have been especially willing to void his personal views for the sake of the votes of his intended audiences, as Eleveld observes.
Perhaps his conscience troubled him; if what he said and what he believed were disparate, well it should. This does not excuse his knowing willingness to bend the arc of truth toward his own electoral advantage, especially as such bending was done, in part, using God’s Name.
Coming on the heels of Mr. Obama’s scolding, irrelevant, and offensive comments about the Crusades and Jim Crow during last week’s National Prayer Breakfast (see FRC President Tony Perkins’ and Rep. Ted Poe’s observations about these remarks for more insight), David Axelrod’s revelation about Mr. Obama’s true feelings concerning homosexual unions is all the more disturbing: Just who is this man in the Oval Office, and what does he really believe, and what does he really want?
Mr. Obama knows the world is a mess. He knows the economy isn’t what he says it is. He knows that same-sex “marriage” is roiling the polis. He knows Congress will never endorse his calls for higher spending and new taxes.
Yet his stridency for unrestricted access to and federal funding of elective abortion and abortifacients, his support for erosions of religious liberty and the rights of conscience, and his aggressive advancement of issues paramount to homosexual activists indicate that in social policy, his agenda is abundantly clear.
The state of the American union is not strong. The cords of its fabric fray more by the day. And, sadly, Barack Obama’s unraveling of it through his foreign, domestic, and social policies is one of the main reasons for its growing weakness.