David Stokes

During recent remarks to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, President Barack Obama waxed a bit defensive in response to mounting criticism that he may be spreading himself, his vision, and his obvious political capital too thin in these early days of his administration. He is calling for reform in our health care system, the same for education, while ending torture as the bad guys have known it, opening the stem cell floodgates on an ethical slippery slope, while trying to fight two wars and fix a troubled economy. We may be witnessing the birth of the modern octo-presidency.

To his credit he is being very up front about his agenda, not to mention consistent with much of what he campaigned about en route to the presidency. I am sure his actions are being met with enthusiasm by the diehard portion of his electoral constituency. However, I am also quite confident there are some who voted for him who really didn’t expect him to be so aggressive toward the left, but rather to lead more from the center. Wherever that is.

To answer his critics – and those who support him but are somewhat concerned about the potential for early-administration-burn-out – he told the crowd:

“I know there’s (sic) some who believe we can only handle one challenge at a time.They forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad, passed the Homestead Act, and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of Civil War. Likewise, President Roosevelt didn’t have the luxury of choosing between ending a depression and fighting a war. President Kennedy didn’t have the luxury of choosing between civil rights and sending us to the moon. And we don’t have the luxury of choosing between getting our economy moving now and rebuilding it over the long term.”

As during the campaign and ever since – and we can assume it will be the same for the foreseeable future – when the going gets tough President Obama pulls out his favorite triumvirate trump card. The names of his historical bff’s Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy are always near the tip of his eloquent tongue. And why not? After all, they have always been seen as like the coolest presidents ever.

Mr. Obama is, by all accounts, a brilliant guy. Years ago, he was the editor of Harvard Law Review – so he knows a thing or two about something called precedent. What he seems to have missed during his recent speech is that the cases he cites to bolster his argument in favor of him being the multi-tasker-in-chief are not exactly on point.

In fact, when closely examined, they are not relevant at all.


David Stokes

David R. Stokes is a best-selling author, pastor, columnist, and broadcaster. His latest book is a novel: CAPITOL LIMITED: A Story about John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Based on a true story, it's about a unique moment in 1947, when Kennedy and Nixon shared