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« Al Franken is senator | Main | Ex-Iran President Khatami: Rigged election was 'velvet coup' against democracy »

July 01, 2009


David Holliday

I can understand wanting to believe in the guy but there is no foundation for your hypothesis. Obama has been on the wrong side of just about every major decision he's made. He's not "sneaky smart" and even if he was, sending out the wrong message to the rest of the world will do far more damage to those seeking freedom and democracy than any benefit that can be gained by a misstep on the part of a 2-bit dictator.

I have always believed that you listen to what someone says but watch what they do. A man is what he does, not what he says he will do. Obama is a sweet talker but his actions show that he is someone who believes in big government, redistributing wealth, cronyism, elitism (e.g. the privileged few are entitled to govern the masses) and extreme liberalism. He has no problem with authoritarian rule and thinks the U.S. has been categorically wrong in its treatment of countries such as Iran, Venezuela, and Syria and he means to correct that. And he has shown no inclination to support fledgling democracy as he has been on the polar opposite side of those seeking democracy in both test cases he’s faced as President (e.g. Iran and Honduras).

The character of a man is reflected in his actions. It is the true measure of who he is. Ascribing ulterior motives not supported by actions taken in order to render better judgment is a bad idea and one that is not supportable by anything I have experienced. I have worked with, supervised and managed people for years. I’ve never found that anyone was other than what their actions indicated they were. I don’t think this guy is any different. The guy you see in the Whitehouse is Obama. His actions are a reflection of who he is. The notion that he is something different is projecting. This may be Obama’s greatest strength. He has an ability to present an image that people can project onto a vision of what they want even though his actions don’t support it. I find this incredibly disturbing. Oops, I think Chris Matthew’s leg just started tingling again.


To date, Obama's action regarding Manuel Zelaya show that when you have a would-be dictator .. you kill the fool.

I'm sure that lesson won't be lost elsewhere.

The Hondurans thught they were doing the humane thing by sending Zelaya out of the country, but I predict if Zelaya goes back .. the military will put him in the ground.


Could Obama’s diplomacy be too clever?

Or could he just be the socialist that the right has claimed for so long that he is?

Occam suggests the latter.

Frank Warner

If you're judging by actions, what do you judge to be the meaning of Obama's refusal to meet Zelaya, the man Obama says is the legal president?


Perhaps he noticed that the public seems fairly against Zelaya and doesn't want to erode his own popularity?

Or maybe he is working behind the scenes?

I doubt the latter postulate. I suspect he's going to continue his foreign policy of being 'deeply concerned' and then dropping the matter whenever something happens anywhere on the planet. Except for Israel, of course.

David Holliday

Maybe he wasn't ready for a photo op standing shoulder to shoulder with Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez and Manuel Zelaya. He's not politically suicidal. However, he did lead the U.S. to co-sponsor a UN resolution calling for Zelaya's return on Thursday less than 48 hours after Honduran's acted.

jj mollo

It's a matter of consistency. Zelaya was the elected president. He was removed from office without resort to the constitution of Honduras. If Obama says that's OK, then he has to say its OK that Ahmadinejad did what he did. Unless rule of law is thoroughgoing, it might as well not exist.

Now, from the point of view of the Hondurans, the guy was trying to subvert their constitution and might have gotten away with it, especially if he got help from Chavez. That's the real world where things actually happen. However, we have to take the position that the Hondurans should have removed him by constitutional methods. If we don't, we can legitimately be accused of favoritism and meddling in another country's internal affairs. And Chavez would have done so. It probably would have given Chavez a great opportunity to use the nasty old US for political leverage. Now he has one less stick to beat us with. And now we have the leverage. We can hold Chavez to the same standard. We can ensure that he follows international law with respect to Honduras.

To a certain extent I suspect that the coup actually was ill-intentioned, desired by the military and the wealthy elite in order to protect their interests. Justifiably, yes. According to an estimate I read, something like two thirds of Hondurans agree with the action, but it was not constitutional and probably not tactically wise.

Whether Zelaya's intentions are honest or not, it's difficult for the US President to condemn him until he has clearly violated the law. It's also an indirect way for us to tell Chavez how we're going to react to him. Keep it legal and we'll stand aside. It keeps him in a box, not a very secure box, but better than none.

Now, beyond condemning the removal of a sitting president, Obama doesn't have to do anything to actually support him. Being seen with him would be a political mistake. He wants Hondurans to understand that he sympathizes, and will probably provide indirect support, but he can't condone the actual action.

David Holliday

He was removed because he was acting in violation of the Honduran Constitution and moving forward in spite of an order from the Honduran Supreme Court and bypassing the Constitutional right of the Legislature, and trying to bypass the military. Other than that, of course it was a wealthy elite conspiracy! I suggest you read the following article...

The Wages of Chavismo

And of course the Honduran people launched massive rallies today in support of the action. But that doesn't really count for anything either does it.

jj mollo

Don't paint me as a Zelaya supporter. That's not what I said. I agree with everything in the article with the possible exception that Obama is making the wrong moves. That I don't know. He might know a lot more than I do. I'm not happy about it, but as Frank points out, he might have deeper plans.

I just want to quote you one line from the article that you've linked to:

However, the proper constitutional route was to impeach Mr. Zelaya and then arrest him for violating the law.

David Holliday

I'm not trying to paint you into any corner JJ. No disrespect intended. I respect you and Frank and this blog even though I don't agree a lot of the time. But when I hear things like "desired by the military and the wealthy elite in order to protect their interests" it reminds me of 60's rhetoric about the proletariat and bourgeoisie. I didn’t buy into the arguments at the time and I don’t buy into them now. I haven’t seen any evidence of a wealthy elite conspiracy to hold onto power and keep the poor down. I think what we’ve have here is a tiny country scared for its life trying to hold on to Democracy.

It probably wasn't technically the correct way to go to boot Zelaya out of the country but I think you have to admit that Zelaya wasn't following proper procedures either. I believe the Hondurans initially tried to use proper procedure (e.g. when the court ruled Zelaya's referendum illegal and when the Supreme Court reinstated the Defense Chief after Zelaya dismissed him carrying out his illegal orders). However, Zelaya ignored all these actions and started to distribute ballots printed in Venezuela to enact a vote that was obvious only his chosen supporters would cast. It was only then that the Hondurans took the extraordinary steps they did. I don't think you can state that at that time anything was normal. Who knows what they feared would happen next. I wouldn’t think it unreasonable if they feared potential military intervention by Venezuela. If Zelaya had managed to get a vote out that came back facially in favor of his position, even if it wasn’t legal or representative of the country, he could have claimed to be justified in bringing in outside force to enforce its outcome. I don't fault the Hondurans for the action they took. I think they took it in about as legal a way as they possibly could. They should be commended for defending their constitution from a blatant and bold attack to render it meaningless and establish Zelaya as another banana republic dictator.

Frank Warner

In Honduras, they basically had a Marbury v. Madison decision, except that the president didn't like the outcome.

It makes you wonder. Would that U.S. principle of judicial review be so solid today had Marbury v. Madison gored President Jefferson's ox? Would Jefferson have pulled a Zelaya?

David Holliday

Jefferson by refusing to deliver the commissions was not overtly trying to sidestep the Constitution. It can be argued, at least until it ended up in front of the Supreme Court, that he didn't see it as a Constitutional issue at all. And while he may have refused to comply with the Supreme Court ruling if it had gone the other way I have a hard time believing he would have. After all it would have meant undercutting the government and institutions he worked so hard to create.

I don't know if we've had an instance in the history of the United States where a sitting President has so blatantly (or even not so blatantly) undertaken to bypass the Constitution. If anyone does it would be interesting to discuss.

Frank Warner

Generally, when our presidents have wanted more power, they've gone through the constitutional processes, with a little extra nudging here and there. And during war, they've interpreted their powers to be quite extensive.

jj mollo

I've never been able to decide whether a presidential system of government was superior to a parliamentary form. The present corruption scandals in the UK are instructive, but the frequently rocky road of presidential elections and rule provide the background to ask the question.

David Holliday

I wouldn't argue the case for either (unless maybe if I was sitting in a bar drinking with a bunch of Brits). I think a Constitutional framing (or recognized legal framework that essentially fulfills the same purpose as in the UK) is the key. It provides the basis for how the governed and those who are governing are governed. It is the backstop that catches all unforeseen circumstances and provides the checks-and-balances that are so required in any system of governance. Let's face it, power is intoxicating, and the temptation to abuse power, even when it’s with the best intention, will pull on any man or woman. We need to be protected from ourselves and from the institutions we erect to govern ourselves. Representative government would have failed in this country already without that and won’t succeed in any other without it.

That is what is so wrong with the Obama administration’s response to the Honduran crisis. Zelaya was launching a frontal assault on the very foundation for governance of that country and its people. If his actions had succeeded they would have rendered the Honduran Constitution meaningless and every government institution irrelevant. Anarchy would have prevailed into which he would have stepped and declared himself President for life. The rule of law only exists where there are laws that govern the actions of every man and woman and those laws are enforced. If anyone is above the law then what you have is the rule of one.

If you want to get a better picture of what has and is happening in Honduras check out Fausta’s Blog this link Honduras: EU withdraws ambassadors is a good summary of what happened up through yesterday.

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