Upheaval in Honduras: A Defining Moment for the Obama Presidency

Quick, what’s the capital of Honduras? Probably fewer than 10 percent of Americans could answer that question prior to the recent news that Honduran President Mel Zelaya was sent packing to Costa Rica by the Honduran military. While it’s too early to say whether the so-called “coup” will stick, or whether Zelaya, like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez a few years ago, can regain power, it isn’t too early to assess Barack Obama’s response. In fact, Obama’s reaction has been most illuminating, and may indeed be one of the defining moments of his presidency.

When the “mullah-cracy” that controls the government in Iran made a mockery of the rule of law with its sham election earlier in June, Obama was strangely silent. Days later, he finally paid lip service to the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people, although he was clearly following American public opinion rather than leading by personal commitment to the principle that the people of the world have certain inalienable rights that their governments cannot abrogate. The cop-out used by Obama essentially amounted to respecting other countries’ sovereignty and not wanting to “interfere” in their business.

By contrast, Obama’s response to events in Honduras was immediate and energetic. He condemned the expulsion of Zelaya from his office and his country, asserting that it was “not legal” and “a terrible precedent.” What happened to Obama’s alleged respect for sovereignty and unwillingness to “meddle?” The only constant element in Obama’s differing reactions to upheaval in Iran and Honduras is that in both cases our president refused to condemn the party that was trampling the rule of law. (Or, at least in Iran’s case, initially.)

Briefly, what happened in Honduras is that President Zelaya wanted to follow the example of his role model, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, by altering his country’s constitution to enable him to continue as ruler indefinitely. By Honduran law, Zelaya’s eligibility would expire next year, and only the Honduran congress can initiate the process of rewriting the country’s constitution. Zelaya usurped that prerogative by decreeing a referendum on changing the constitution. He then showed his “democratic” colors by threatening Hondurans with the withholding of their government-provided medical care if they wouldn’t sign petitions for a referendum. (Lesson: Government largess comes with strings attached—including in healthcare.)

The Honduran congress, attorney general, and supreme court in Tegucigalpa (that’s the capital) all declared Zelaya’s desired referendum illegal. When Zelaya sent a mob to grab referendum ballots from where the military had secured them (ballots that had been flown in from Venezuela’s Chavez, by the way) the supreme court ordered the military to expel Zelaya, which it did. This was not a typical Latin American military coup in which some egotistical general unilaterally decides that might makes right; rather, the military acted entirely in obedience to the rule of law in defense of the country’s constitution.

By condemning Zelaya’s removal from office, declaring him the rightful president, and threatening to inflict various punishments on Honduras if he isn’t reinstated, Team Obama has come down firmly against the Honduran people and the rule of law. Obama’s different responses to Iran and Honduras indicate a revival of the perverse foreign policy of Jimmy Carter: namely, never treat enemies harshly; instead, apologize and grovel to them, but never hesitate to chastise, castigate, and even undermine our friends and allies.

A cynic might say that Obama is reluctant to condemn an end-run around normal voting procedures, due to his close ties with ACORN. That may be going too far, but it is accurate to say that Obama’s willingness to take the side of an anti-democratic leftist resembles the way hard-left U.S. congressmen seemed friendlier to socialist/Marxist regimes than they did toward Ronald Reagan. I always attributed that phenomenon to their ideological affinity—the fact that American leftists craved similar desires for central planning.

Obama’s stance here also speaks volumes about his constitutional philosophy. In the past, he has spoken of his frustration with our constitution’s historical restrictions on government power. He seems—at least in this case—to believe that a president’s power should have priority over the rule of law as embodied in a country’s constitution. This means he has sided with an ambitious leftist president who wants to subvert his country’s constitution and prolong his rule. That isn’t a reassuring prospect.

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  • Cooky642

    And we expected a different reaction from Mr. Obama for what reason??? The man has told us, flat out, that he became a Constitutional lawyer for the sole purpose of stabbing that same Constitution through the heart and setting us all free from the “limitations” imposed on us by our Founders. He has made no secret of who and what he is. It seems to me that it represents the extreme of naivette and gullibility to NOT take him at his word.

  • cpageinkeller

    I agree with Cooky642. In an oft-played interview with a Chicago radio station (while he was still a State Senator), Oabama voiced his regrets that the Constitution was a bill of “negative rights” (i.e.,a document of enumerated powers designed to PROTECT the citizenry FROM the government.) He expressed his regret that the Warren Court did not go far enough in making it a “living” document that focused on what government MUST do FOR people.

    Since the Great Depression, our Constitution has been folded, spindled, and mutilated. All there branches of government have played a role, usurping the rights of both citizens and states.

    The Honduras episode of legitimate organs of government rejecting the power play by a sitting president and its subsequent condemnation by the Obama administration underscores his view of “rule of man” as trumping the “rule of law.”

    Anyone who really listened to Obama during his campaign should not be surprised!

  • SeanReynoldsNZ

    I believe that the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency was one of the worst moments of modern American history. You elected a president in your country who is not content to merely destroy American society with his rabid support for abortion, but wants to ram the culture of death on to the rest of the world. Anyone who thinks that his world-view is compatible with Catholicism has got a roo loose in the top paddock.

  • Warren Jewell

    SeanR – you got that right!

    And, the One-Most-Self-Centered is already subtly plumping for getting rid of the two-term limits on the American Presidency. With no metaphor in mind, we may have to shoot him (and his ilky-ilk) out of office.

    And, yes, the man shadow-boxed through his candidacy even as his few moments of speaking off-prompter gave him away. And, J.McCain entered the ring only to fall before he was much hit, and without striking at those Obama-Duhs! We lost with dummy-putz being overcome by super-putz. Our self-proclaimed elite have become clueless three-legged sheeplike goats, or dangerous five-legged wolves dressed as goats, and a la Matthew 25. And, not a one seems to have read our heart document, the Declaration of Independence; nor respects our operating document, the Constitution. (Then again, the One-Who-Ogles-the-Mirror is a fine example of the failings of ‘affirmative action’ – not very affirmative. Just . what . the . Hades . did . he . learn, if he did not learn that he just isn’t as smart, intellectually and experientially, as Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, et al?)

    Colorful, Sean: “a roo loose in the top paddock”. Even a simple kangaroo knows that freedom is preferable to being a penned creature. But, Kmiec Katholics are dumber than kangaroos, by recent experience.

  • oladybug

    What seems to be in Mr. Obama´s mind? Does he want another Venezuela? Is he afraid of what Chavez may do if Zelaya doesn´t come back to Honduras? I have many questions. I am Honduran living in Tegucigalpa. Can US Citizens do something to avoid Chavez from destroying our democracy? I think you can: writing to all the media showing your discontent with what your government is doing. We are a small and poor country but we have freedom and I think we have the right to defend it. We need international support to stop Chavez´s influence, he is threating us, he wants to invade our country is Zelaya is not restored. Zelaya´s supporters are not Honduran: many have come from Venezuela, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Zelaya is lying everywhere.

  • jpckcmo

    I am glad to see that this article was taken off your home page, as the above remark by Mr. Jewell does not belong on any “pro-life” website. It should have never appeared in the first place.