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The President’s “Safe Space”

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

When was the last time President Obama tried to persuade you on something? Not as in he called you up and tried to talk you into a timeshare … but when was the last time he tried to talk the American people into supporting one of his ideas? Has he truly tried to sell us on anything?


The president does occasionally give a speech in support of one of his agenda items, but they tend to be in cities and at times that coincide with Democratic fundraisers. In other words, it’s lip service; literally the least he could do.

The last time the president pulled the hard sell on the American people was Obamacare. He traveled; he gave speeches and regular interviews. He had the White House health care summit. He didn’t convince the American people – they still don’t want it – but he did get Congress to pass it.

After that, he quit.

Once the Democrats lost the House of Representatives, Obama lost any pretense about working with Republicans or caring about what the American people want or think.

To the extent the White House pretends to care what the public thinks, it’s only when public opinion polls support what the president already wanted. They also tend to be on issues falling just below the WNBA on the list of things people care or think about.

Minimum wage: So few adults work for it that raising it is a meaningless abstract. Gun control: When the media isn’t hyping it connected to an event it only occurs to activists whose livelihood depends on it. Climate change: Less popular than Martin O’Malley.

When public sentiment is against this administration, this administration returns the favor by ignoring it. Obamacare never has been popular, with a clear majority wanting either repeal or major changes to the president’s “signature achievement.” The White House never has considered these opinions at all except to belittle them.


So when it comes to pausing the intake of refugees from Syria and Iraq, President Obama has his mind made up. No poll, no fact, nothing is going to sway him.

To the minimal extent contrary opinions make it through the layers of protection in which the president lives, they are dismissed with snark and anger.

At his press conference in Turkey after the Paris terrorist attack, the president clearly was angry over having to speak on the subject. He walked through his prepared remarks like a child forced to recite a poem at a family Christmas. He actually referred to the murder of 130 innocent human beings as a “setback.”

When question time came, Obama woke up, but only angrily. Snapping at the most favorable press corps since Leni Riefenstahl picked up a camera, the president wanted no part of it. Who were these people to question him?

No matter the issue, President Obama is comfortable only when lecturing. Pushback, even slight, is greeted like a microaggression at the University of Missouri.

The president prefers the warm embrace of an adulating crowd, interviewer or staffer. His inner circle is the buffer zone between reality and him. And he likes it that way.

How else to explain him finding out about his Justice Department forcing the sale of guns to Mexican drug cartels or the IRS targeting of American citizens because of their political beliefs through “news reports”? Aside from the prospect his stories are lies – which is a real possibility and would reflect even worse on his character – the only remaining option is he’s constructed a “safe space” around himself.


No foreign opinions or unsafe thoughts are allowed in the safe space; His Greek chorus of advisors have all the curiosity of a row of bobble-head figures on a dashboard going down a bumpy road. Diversity is only skin-deep.

The president has no interest in convincing, no desire to persuade and no need nor concern for offending. The destruction in his wake is not only to our economy and national security, it is to his own party – and is it complete.

Aside from the office he currently occupies, Obama has been the greatest elector of Republicans the country has ever known. If Republicans could get their act together for more than 20 minutes at a time, they’d run a serious risk of winning the Oval Office too.

Unless and until that day comes, Obama still occupies the White House; and he still has his magic pen and phone. His willingness to bypass the Constitution, Congress, precedent and the will of the people means he will be an obstacle that must be overcome or at least contained.

Jan. 20, 2017, is coming, but it’s not here yet. Until it is, congressional Republicans need to build on what the House did with its refugee bill – violate the president’s safe space. Obama remains personally popular; his agenda is not. The more Democrats are forced to either abandon him or marry his agenda, the better the prospects of destroying the president’s safe space.


Making Obama use his magic pen to veto popular bills, supported even by Democrats, rather than decree laws into existence, will do more to keep the Democrats out of a third consecutive White House term than even nominating Ronald Reagan’s ghost could.

If only we could count on Republicans to do the right thing. Maybe we’re the ones who need that safe space…

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