President Barack Obama may be able to exhale for now.
In the wake of enormous controversy, Obama came out Friday with the announcement that an accommodation will be made for the birth control coverage featured in the 2010 healthcare law. Under the change, if a charity or religious organization has issues about providing birth control to female employees, then it would be available through insurance companies, which would have to provide direct coverage.
Obama was warned about this birth control policy by his own Vice President and other advisers, but proceeded anyway before Friday’s announcement.
Obviously much of this was directly related to Obama boosting his re-election chances, but hidden beneath this controversy are telling signs of his political philosophy, view on the Constitution and the power he seeks to wield.
If you followed the 2008 election and paid attention, you probably heard plenty about Obama and his connections to Saul Alinsky, another community organizer from Chicago.
Alinsky, who died in 1972, was author of the book Rules for Radicals. The Obama administration has continued to deny any links between the President and Alinsky. What many may not have seen is a 1972 interview with Playboy, in which Alinsky gives his thoughts on religion and its role in his life and society.
“The great atomic physicist Niels Bohr summed it up pretty well when he said, ‘Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question,”’ Alinsky said. “Nobody owns the truth, and dogma, whatever form it takes, is the ultimate enemy of human freedom.”
He goes onto say that “conflict is the vital core of an open society; if you were going to express democracy in a musical score, your major theme would be the harmony of dissonance. All change means movement, movement means friction and friction means heat. You’ll find consensus only in a totalitarian state, Communist or fascist.”
So if conflict is the goal, then let’s see: There was the health care debate, budget debate, Occupy Wall Street. Now there’s been the birth control issue.
Before he was elected, Obama gave what has now become a famous speech known as the “Call to Renewal” in 2006.
Many conservatives and evangelicals will remember this speech, because it’s when Obama said, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation. At least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation and a Hindu nation and a nation of non-believers.”
At one point, Obama rails on secularists, stating they are “wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square” but later adds that “democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values.”
He later goes on to discuss politics.
“…Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality,” Obama states. “It involves compromise; the art of what’s possible. And at some fundamental level, religion doesn’t allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible. If God’s spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences.”
Did Obama not know that his birth control policy would conflict with the Catholic church’s beliefs?
Once again, some perspective is found from Alinsky.
“The organizer is constantly creating new out of the old,” he wrote in Rules for Radicals. “He knows that all new ideas arise from conflict; that every time man has a new idea it has been a challenge to the sacred ideas of the past and the present and inevitably a conflict has raged.”
In this case, though, the issue goes well beyond birth control.
Before he became President, Obama riled up a crowd while campaigning when he mentioned the Constitution.
“Don’t mock the Constitution,” he said, referring to his critics. “Don’t make fun of it. Don’t suggest it’s un-American to abide by what the Founding Fathers set up. It’s worked pretty well for over 200 years.”
It’s ironic when you consider the series of moves he’s made over the last three years. Later next month, the Supreme Court is set to rule on whether Obamacare is constitutional. His recess appointments also came under heavy criticism, and recently conservatives and leaders within the Catholic church said his birth control policy violated the First Amendment.
“… The American people know what our President has apparently forgot, that religious liberty cannot be doled out in little pieces to appease certain interest groups or political constituencies,” wrote Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. “They want the President to start upholding the oath of office he took to support and defend the Constitution – all of it, including Americans’ fundamental right to religious liberty.”
Obama got a roar of applause when he was on the campaign trail, but he’s also said before that the Constitution is a “remarkable document” but it’s also an “imperfect document.” He also has said “the Constitution can be interpreted in so many ways.”
The Daily Caller pointed out that after Congress established a provision for this year’s spending bill, which prohibits the National Institutes of Health from using any of its $30.7 billion taxpayer funds for pro gun control purposes. In that article, Obama clarifies his stance on the matter.
“I have advised Congress that I will not construe these provisions as preventing me from fulfilling my constitutional responsibility to recommend to the Congress’s consideration such measures as I shall judge necessary and expedient,” he says.
The website clearly points out: Nowhere in the Constitution is the President given this power.
In a Sept, 2009, article in World Net Daily, author Aaron Klein provides a glimpse of Cass Sunstein, who was then Obama’s newly appointed regulatory czar.
Early on in the piece, Sunstein offers up his views on President Obama, and the power he should have, which was discussed in much greater detail in a 2006 paper he wrote for Yale Law School entitled, “Beyond Marbury: The Executive’s Power to Say What the Law Is.” The paper delves into an 1803 case – Marbury v. Madison, in which the Supreme Court declared it’s “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”
“There is no reason to believe that in the face of statutory ambiguity, the meaning of federal law should be settled by the inclinations and predispositions of federal judges. The outcome should instead depend on the commitments and beliefs of the President and those who operate under him,” Sunstein writes.
That was in Year One of the Obama administration. Fast forward to late last year when Obama made three recess appointments.
Former Attorney General Edwin Meese and Todd Gaziano, who served under three Presidents in the U.S. Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel, both pointed out in the Washington Post this was a clear violation of Article I, Section 5, in the Constitution, which says neither house of Congress can adjourn for over three days without consent of the other house.
In this case, the House didn’t provide that consent. Not that it mattered.
“When Congress refuses to act and as a result hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them,” Obama said in a USA Today article. “I have an obligation to act on behalf of the American people.”
Is it simply just acting, or changing?
“An organizer working in and for an open society is in an ideological dilemma to begin with, he does not have a fixed truth — truth to him is relative and changing,” Alinsky wrote. “Everything to him is relative and changing.”