Yet, the U.S. has condemned Honduras, rescinded aid to the country and cut off an unspecified number of visas sought by Hondurans desiring to visit the United States – an unfortunate consequence of a President and Secretary of State completely out of their depth.

The Hondurans can be forgiven if they’re just a little bit protective of their Constitution. At the time Honduras adopted its current constitution in 1982, it had already gone through 15 constitutions since gaining independence from Spain – a new one, on average, every 10 years.

Previous constitutions proved ineffective in restraining executive power and led to a succession of authoritarian military regimes. This is why the current constitution requires the removal of any president who proposes extending his term.

One can’t argue with the results. President Zelaya’s election marked the seventh consecutive democratic election in Honduras, the most in its history. By removing him, Honduras was simply acting to prevent that streak from ending.

By denouncing rather than praising Honduras’ defense of its democracy, and by cutting off all aid to the Honduran government, the Obama Administration has sent the wrong message to Hondurans who have paid an enormous price for it.

It sent the wrong message to Hugo Chavez and other regional despots who now must question America’s commitment to defending democracy.

And it sent the wrong message to Americans concerned about Obama’s commitment to democratic values in the wake of “Fishygate” and the intimidation of critics of the President at town hall meetings by his union supporters.

If Barack Obama continues to put his ideology before freedom, he may fall to a kind of coup himself – something the rest of us like to call “elections.”

David A. Ridenour

David A. Ridenour is vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a position he has held since 1986.

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