Killing Presidents

7 Days in MayRelated controversies roiling the blogosphere today point to the dark side of American politics.

First, NewsMax ran an article by a John L. Perry titled “Obama Risks a Domestic Military ‘Intervention.’” It has apparently been removed from the site (it’s now directing to the home page and isn’t showing along with the author’s other pieces) but the excerpt says “There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the ‘Obama problem.’ Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic. — America isn’t the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized.”  TPM has the full text.  Here’s a further taste:

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

Then, a Times of London editorial by Gore Vidal predicts “We’ll have a dictatorship soon in the US.”

Vidal originally became pro-Obama because he grew up in “a black city” (meaning Washington), as well as being impressed by Obama’s intelligence. “But he believes the generals. Even Bush knew the way to win a general was to give him another star. Obama believes the Republican Party is a party when in fact it’s a mindset, like Hitler Youth, based on hatred — religious hatred, racial hatred. When you foreigners hear the word ‘conservative’ you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They’re not, they’re fascists.”

Another notable Obama mis-step has been on healthcare reform. “He f***ed it up. I don’t know how because the country wanted it. We’ll never see it happen.” As for his wider vision: “Maybe he doesn’t have one, not to imply he is a fraud. He loves quoting Lincoln and there’s a great Lincoln quote from a letter he wrote to one of his generals in the South after the Civil War. ‘I am President of the United States. I have full overall power and never forget it, because I will exercise it’. That’s what Obama needs — a bit of Lincoln’s chill.” Has he met Obama? “No,” he says quietly, “I’ve had my time with presidents.” Vidal raises his fingers to signify a gun and mutters: “Bang bang.” He is referring to the possibility of Obama being assassinated. “Just a mysterious lone gunman lurking in the shadows of the capital,” he says in a wry, dreamy way.

Finally, Thomas Friedman points to a Facebook poll that asked, “Should Obama be killed?” The choices were: “No, Maybe, Yes, and Yes if he cuts my health care.” Says Friedman:

The Secret Service is now investigating. I hope they put the jerk in jail and throw away the key because this is exactly what was being done to Rabin.

Even if you are not worried that someone might draw from these vitriolic attacks a license to try to hurt the president, you have to be worried about what is happening to American politics more broadly.

Our leaders, even the president, can no longer utter the word “we” with a straight face. There is no more “we” in American politics at a time when “we” have these huge problems — the deficit, the recession, health care, climate change and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — that “we” can only manage, let alone fix, if there is a collective “we” at work.

Sometimes I wonder whether George H.W. Bush, president “41,” will be remembered as our last “legitimate” president. The right impeached Bill Clinton and hounded him from Day 1 with the bogus Whitewater “scandal.” George W. Bush was elected under a cloud because of the Florida voting mess, and his critics on the left never let him forget it.

Now, Friedman is overreacting a touch here to a poll on an Internet site with millions of members who are pretty much free to post anything they want.  Then again, seeing broad trends in a single anecdote is what he does.

But his larger point nonetheless has merit.  The mass political debate, as evidenced by the blogs, talk radio, talk TV, townhall meetings, and various other venues certainly seems to be increasingly vitriolic, ill tempered, and divided.  Gone are the days when those on the other side of a given political dispute were honorable fellow countrymen with different priorities; there are only those who agree and selfish, unpatriotic, evil people.

FILED UNDER: General, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    Cue references to liberals saying they wanted to kill Bush in 5 … 4…. 3…

  2. If you read the whole article on Gore Vidal I’m not sure anyone has ever met the criteria provided by Alfred (Batman’s butler) better of someone who merely wants to watch the world burn.

  3. Sorry, meant description rather than criteria in the last post.

  4. JKB says:

    Gone are the days when those on the other side of a given political dispute were honorable fellow countrymen with different priorities;

    Well that was always just an illusion. It is not recent advice that one does not discuss religion or politics in polite company. Namely because politeness is the first casualty. Sure in the past, when access to the public stage was, shall we say managed, polite argument was the norm. However, now the gatekeepers have been overun by the ease of getting your speech to the wider public. But more importantly, to get your soundbite out, it has to be contentious and controversial. Polite debate doesn’t sell soap.

  5. Well, Alex there was a whole novel on the subject of killing Bush — Checkpoint, I believe.

    What feels different to me about this is that it took a lot to get to that point. It took the weird 2000 election. It took the brutal campaign to drag the country to war in 2003. It took Cheney’s constant accusations of “treason” to anyone who opposed Iraq or the Patriot Act, etc.

    I mean, what has Obama really done? People were pissed off about what Bush did — his politicization of 9/11, his rush to war — and they lost their heads. Bush Derangement Syndrome was real. But with Obama people are just making stuff up. I mean, he’s hoping to pass a health care reform package that would cost less than Bush’s prescription drug benefit and would not cause anyone to lose their current coverage… and he’s greeted with signed with him and a Hitler mustache?

    He raises taxes on 2% of the population — a smaller increase than Bush 41 signed or than Reagan signed in either 1982 or 1983 — and somehow he’s a crazy Marxist?

    The reality is that Obama has not accomplished anything… and likely won’t. The climate change bill won’t get 60 votes. The health care package being discussed contains nothing in the least bit provocative. Liberals are loosing it over his lack of accomplishments. And yet, when you listen to Fox, you’d think we were 2/3 of the way to a Bolshevik revolution.

    Liberals were pissed off at Bush accomplishments. Conservatives seem irate over what they think is Obama’s hidden agenda. Well, guess what guys? He can’t even pass his declared agenda, much less whatever secret Muslim-Marxist-Nazi goals you think he’s harboring.

  6. redneckrandy says:

    I’m a highly uneducated, underachieving, pickup truck driving 47 year old white man who clings to “guns and religion,” and OU Sooner football. The last thing I want is for the president to be harmed in any way. I did not vote for him, but I accept that he won the election and he is my president. I know lots of other people like myself and the worst I have heard anyone say is “lets vote him out next time.” It’s a shame that there is no more “We” in American politics, it’s just “Us” against “Them.” I’m for taking a step back and letting the man wear the “Big boy pants” for awhile, and if he f***’s up? Well, there is another election coming. I don’t think for one moment that we as a people would stand for a Military Intervention of our government.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    Bernard, I think one of the things that changed is that the Republicans are completely without a power base today, and thus some people feel without responsibility and others feel without representation.

    I think we had some of this in 2000-2006 with the Democrats, but really the Senate was so close that people like Jim Jeffords and Arlen Spector held the balance.

    As an indpendent I would like to see the Republicans take one of the Houses in 2010, but I’m not sure I see that happening.

  8. The Obama presidency, or even the 21st century, is not unique in its negative vibes. You could go all the way back to the election of 1800, or certainly to the Civil War, to see a contentious spirit in the American populace.

    As for personal hatred of the president, remember that Barack Obama and George W. Bush were never impeached; Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were.

    Even talk of a military coup is nothing new. There were rumors that Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger instructed military commanders to ignore orders from President Nixon during the tense August 1974 period.

  9. TangoMan says:

    Our leaders, even the president, can no longer utter the word “we” with a straight face. There is no more “we” in American politics at a time when “we” have these huge problems

    After “we” are done processing the sunshine enema of multiculturalism we’re left with the results that Friedman so decries. Diversity isn’t a strength when it creates so much difference that common perspectives and common values get eroded and replaced with multiple perspectives and multiple values. Friedman really needs to come to terms with The Progressives Dilemma – we can’t have multiculturalism and a unified, cohesive polity imbued with shared values and shared perspectives which result in shared sacrifice. Pick one, multiculturalism or social welfare/ social cohesion.

  10. Derrick says:

    Well, Alex there was a whole novel on the subject of killing Bush — Checkpoint, I believe.

    Actually, no. I think your referring to that play in London which wasn’t done by Americans.

    For the record, we aren’t talking about nameless, faceless jerks writing on obscure blogs. We are talking about House Representatives who think that Barack is “an enemy of humanity” and to completely legitimized sources on the Right like Newsmax which publishes wishes of a coup. The best you may come up with is something from Code Pink that even approaches this insanity while also being from quasi-credible sources. You will have to look far and wide for the current vitrol’s equal, except the last Democratic President’s cocaine mule and homicide killer past.

  11. Actually, no, I was thinking of Checkpoint, by American novelist Nicholson Baker (http://www.amazon.com/Checkpoint-Novel-Nicholson-Baker/dp/1400079853).

    But anyway, my bigger point is that Bush hatred, even if it was often OTT, was “earned” whereas hatred of Obama is almost wholly invented.

  12. odograph says:

    And here I thought conservatives opposed moral relativism, believed in absolute good and evil.

    On the absolute scale, killing anyone (including an elected President who has broken no laws) is an easy call. Evil.

  13. Brett says:

    Gone are the days when those on the other side of a given political dispute were honorable fellow countrymen with different priorities; there are only those who agree and selfish, unpatriotic, evil people.

    Was there ever such an era? Political debate has been highly partisan and vitriolic since the country’s founding (witness the blows between Adams and Jefferson and their supporters in the 1800 Presidential Election), and it’s only the fact that television and the Internet shove it in our faces in our homes that we notice (before that, you’d either have to get newspapers to hear about it, or get into arguments at the local bar/hall/coffee shop).

  14. Mannning says:

    How, pray tell, do you know that the President has broken no laws?

  15. G.A.Phillips says:

    selfish, unpatriotic, evil people.

    hmmmm…….

  16. mpw280 says:

    Sorry, I will bite, there are three groups on Facebook that are Kill Bush related, don’t see anyone up in arms about it. So take a chill pill and admit that Liberals have the lead in wanting to kill a sitting president. As to the most dangerous time to be president, I think Ford and Reagan had it more dangerous than Obama does. mpw

  17. G.A.Phillips says:

    But anyway, my bigger point is that Bush hatred, even if it was often OTT, was “earned”

    liberalish logic.

    whereas hatred of Obama is almost wholly invented.

    liberalish guy accidentally being logical.

    Or do you wish to refraise your statment Sir.

  18. McGehee says:

    The last thing I want is for the president to be harmed in any way.

    Ditto. I’ve said elsewhere that I hope Barack Obama lives to be 120.

    That is not to be confused with wishing him well, any more than considering him to be “my president” is to be confused with supporting everything, or indeed anything, he wants to do.

  19. McGehee says:

    completely legitimized sources on the Right like Newsmax

    BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

  20. odograph says:

    How, pray tell, do you know that the President has broken no laws?

    Gosh Manning, what is the principle of American justice?

    (LOL, another indication that James’ readers can’t quite engage with the basic moral question and have to cast for something, anything, to at least partially justify murder.)

  21. odograph says:

    The last thing I want is for the president to be harmed in any way.

    Ditto. I’ve said elsewhere that I hope Barack Obama lives to be 120.

    OK, not everybody here is nuts.

  22. anjin-san says:

    I think everyone here knows just how much I dislike Bush, but if anyone tried to physically harm him while he was in office I would not have complained if they were shot dead on the spot.

    Violence, and the threat of violence against a President, love him or hate him, simply cannot be tolerated.

  23. floyd says:

    “”But anyway, my bigger point is that Bush hatred, even if it was often OTT, was “earned” whereas hatred of Obama is almost wholly invented.””
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    Bernard;
    Are you aware of the 150 million+ Americans who view this statement from the EXACT opposite perspective??

  24. peterh says:

    Floyd;
    Are you aware of the 150 million+”6%” Americans who would view your statement as being complete bull pucky……

    Just saying…..

  25. floyd says:

    peterh;
    What better way to gauge the “rightness” of one’s position than by examining the caliber and credibility of the opposition?

    Of course I realize that about half the population agrees with Bernard, that was the point of the comment![lol]

    bull pucky??? …really??…

    just saying…….

  26. Bob says:

    The real security threat is in the latest unemployment report. Under 25 year old`s are unemployed at the rate of over 52%.
    Behold the ready to be trained Civilian Defense Corps.

  27. sam says:

    @GA

    selfish, unpatriotic, evil people.

    hmmmm…….

    quod erat dumbonstrandum

  28. G.A.Phillips says:

    quod erat dumbonstrandum

    Sam I don’t speak donkeylatin, English please..

  29. Eric says:

    So take a chill pill and admit that Liberals have the lead in wanting to kill a sitting president.

    This is hogwash. Detesting a President who has indeed earned that dislike is not the same as advocating for his assassination. In any event, I don’t think we should be “taking a chill pill” in any of these cases when violence is advocated against a President, sitting or otherwise.

    As to the most dangerous time to be president, I think Ford and Reagan had it more dangerous than Obama does.

    You can’t possibly believe this. In what way? While I could agree ANY President has it dangerous, I think it’s pretty clear there are, shall we say, aggravating factors with Obama. For example, he’s African-American?

    Yes, Yes, I know, mpw, you probably like to believe that we live in a glorious, post-racial age of equality and respect, in which we all embrace each other in multicultural displays of affection, and go dancing in the bright, noonday sun in sunflower-filled meadows near streams fed by the purest mountain water.

    But that’s not exactly the case, is it?

  30. G.A.Phillips says:

    For example, he’s African-American?

    Don’t forget he is half white devil too…..