Friday, January 29, 2010

First Amendment Protection or Corporate Meddling? or Can a President be "Brazen?"

Has a U.S. Supreme Court majority cloaked a partisan, political move in the guise of free speech?
Is it wildly inappropriate to label a sitting President as "brazen?"
OK, readers, let's start at the beginning.
While watching the State of the Union Address earlier the week, I was impressed and satisfied that President Obama had the conviction in his often-stated beliefs, and the integrity, to comment directly to the six Supreme Court Justices in attendance regarding the Court's landmark decision of the prior week to remove restrictions on independent campaign contributions by corporations.
Personally, I'm a face-to-face, no-baloney kind of a gal. I'd rather be told to my face that I'm too fat, too skinny, wearing too much perfume, too loud, too obsessive (you get the picture!), than to have it stated aloud or whispered behind my back.
I found it honorable and refreshing that Obama took a direct, immediate approach with the Justices.
And after all, in a 2004 State of the Union Address, President G.W. Bush rather off-handedly opined that a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage was less than favorable. To those who feel Obama challenged the integrity and ability of the Court to make impartial decisions, I offer up Bush's 2004 challenge to the separation of state and federal powers.
Realistically speaking, I find it hard to believe that politics wasn't behind the decision. From the beginning of his campaign for the presidency, Obama has clearly and repeatedly spoken against
special interests, lobbyists, out-sourcing of American jobs, "politics as usual,"and the like.
I reason that when the highest court in our land decides it's OK for corporations to saturate the airways with politicaly-motivated attacks liberally and at will, it is tantamount to disenfranchising each and every common citizen of these United States.
It's true that as a senator, Obama voted against the appointments of the three Justices in attendance who voted to strike down the restrictions. Justice Alito, who mouthed what appeared to be "not true" as Obama spoke (I find that disrespectful!), Chief Justice Roberts, and the author of the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy, were not Obama's choices for the Court. And I would bet that Obama was not their choice for President (ya' think?).
But a president is a president. A president, when all is said and done, at the very least deserves the respect of the office, and should always speak plainly and truthfully. Kicking off the comment to the court by saying,"With all due deference to the separation of powers," was, in my mind, sufficiently respectful of the court's integrity and legitimacy.
Interestingly enough, the majority of Justices, in their decision, did strike down elements of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Finance Act ( McCain- Fiengold), clearing the way for corporations to produce ads promoting or discrediting candidates.
The McCain-Fiengold Act, in part, prohibited corporations from making campaign contributions via general treasury funds 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election. That element prompted the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C. to rule that the conservative non-profit corporation, Citizens United, could not air commercials for a documentary it produced, "Hilary: The Movie," the night before a 2008 Democratic primary. The District Court for D.C ruled that the commercial violated McCain-Fiengold because the commercials served no other purpose than to discredit Clinton.
Hmmm . . . a lot to process.
Connect the dots. What do you think?? Seriously, leave a comment. Sound off!
Oh, by the way, it will take a Constitutional Amendment to strike down the Court's decision.
Now, as for the "brazen" characterization of Obama . . .
I read that reference on a Web Site last night just before retiring. Readers were invited to vote in approval or disapproval of Obama's remarks to the Justices. The disapproving vote, as you've gathered by this point, described the President as "brazen."
In my mind, hussies are brazen, spoiled brats are brazen. Brazen, to me, indicates immaturity and/or stepping beyond one's boundaries or rights.
Presidents are brave, honest, forthright, but never "brazen." Obviously, that one rubbed me the wrong way.
It reflects, to me, the arrogant attitude of many on the right that a relatively young, by appearances, African-American man, hasn't got the right to be sitting in the White House.
To those on the right, those who can only tolerate the occasional "token" person of color, but certainly not one in their faces and undeniably in power, I can actually understand (not condone) their distaste for and fear of Obama.
Here is a well-spoken, intelligent, wildly confident (to some, to the point of arrogance) African American man challenging them and their long-held beliefs. It's unseemly. It's unnerving. But it is, in fact, reality. Obama is, indisputably, the embodiment of the free will of a majority of voting American citizens.
I believe that those facts are, very simply, the force behind the barrage of criticism and disrespect unleashed by Obama's comments to the Justices during the State of the Union Address.
What do you think?

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