Cross-posted at www.PoliticalReformer.com
This year’s spring showers have brought several new books on the presidency of Barack Obama. In one of the latest, entitled, The Blueprint: Obama's Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, co-authors Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski offer yet another work in the Obama horror genre – arguing the president is consciously and systematically seeking to vastly usurp his authority and destroy the very constitutional foundation of our nation. Mr. Blackwell, the far better known co-author who has previously served as Ohio Treasurer and Secretary of State, recently appeared on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show to make his case. Unfortunately, while the viewing audience may have expected an exchange of wit and intellect, what they witnessed was Blackwell’s complete inability to provide a single iota of defense for his claim. At times, the former Ohio politician seemed liked a deer caught in the headlights, unable to draw on any facts. Blackwell’s performance was so inchoate that it begs the question of whether he is in fact the co-author of this book.
Among the many points that Blackwell was woefully inadequate in addressing:
Federal Judicial Appointments
On the matter of federal judicial appointments (Article III of the Constitution), Blackwell claimed that President Obama has been ramming through numerous court appointments that will ultimately support his dictatorial rule and subvert the Constitution. He appeared shocked when Mr. Stewart informed him that, by this stage of his presidency, President Bush had appointed more judges than Barack Obama has. Far more in fact. A quick check of the record reveals that President Bush had made 52 appointments to the federal judiciary by this time in his presidency. Compare this to the 21 federal judges that Congress has approved for President Obama to date. Although Mr. Stewart did not provide Mr. Blackwell with the actual numbers, Blackwell seemed to be in disbelief when confronted with the reality of the situation.
Later on in the interview, when repeatedly pressed by Stewart on what President Obama had done to subvert the Constitution, Blackwell continued to stumble and was unable to come up with a single rational example. Mr. Stewart then pointed out that Blackwell’s book contained an entire chapter on gun rights. But, he then informed Blackwell that the only major action President Obama has taken on guns was to allow gun owners to carry their weapons in national parks. Blackwell got off easy on this one. Stewart could have said a lot more. Obama also signed legislation allowing guns on Amtrak trains. Furthermore, during his first year in office, President Obama has been skewered by gun control advocates. Indeed, the Brady Campaign, a leading advocacy organization for gun control, gave the president a grade of “F” on every issue it scored in 2009 – from failing to strengthen background checks, to holding off on his pledge to push for re-institution of the assault rifle ban. Clearly, to date, the president has not sought to seriously limit “gun rights.” On the contrary, as the Brady Campaign has made clear, "in just one year, Barack Obama has signed into law more repeals of federal gun [control] policies than [were signed] in President George W. Bush’s eight years in office."
Most importantly, when addressing the overall conclusions of Blackwell’s argument, Jon Stewart astutely pointed out that if there has been a shift toward an imperial presidency in Washington, it greatly accelerated under President Bush, not President Obama. Moreover, as Stewart emphasized, Mr. Blackwell was focusing solely on differences in public policy and ideology and he failed to make the case that President Obama is undermining the Constitution of the United States. In other words, while it is certainly true that a pragmatic liberal president is taking the U.S. government in a more pragmatic, liberal direction, the claim that Barack Obama is subverting the Constitution and creating an imperial presidency is patently false. Unable to muster up a strong defense to this point, Blackwell simply continued to find different ways to re-state his central assertion.
Ken Blackwell’s Real Agenda
Given Ken Blackwell’s utter inability to carry out a knowledgeable discussion of, let alone defend the main themes of his 300 page book, we are brought back to our original question. Are we to believe that Mr. Blackwell co-authored this work? Or, should we instead accept that he co-authored the book and really wonder whether he did so primarily for the cynical purpose of using it as a vehicle to smear and foment hatred toward the president. Based on Blackwell’s recent track record, there is reason to believe the latter.
Despite his ongoing presence as one of the few prominent African-Americans involved in Republican national politics, Mr. Blackwell has long sought greater stature within the GOP’s political order. And he has used the politics of distortion and destruction as his springboard. In order to fuel his rise, he’s attempted over the years to play a key role in inciting right-wing movements and organizations. Just as importantly, he has a history of using misleading and false rhetoric to drive his causes. For instance, in his war against gay rights, he told The Columbus Dispatch that gays and lesbians are akin to arsonists and kleptomaniacs who can be changed. But that comment amounts to small potatoes when compared to the outrageous charge that he levied just a few months ago.
In February of 2010, on Foxnews.com, Blackwell made the claim that President Obama was waging "an anti-Christian programmatic pogrom" by appointing two liberal nominees, Dawn Johnsen and Chai Feldblum, to the Justice Department and the EEOC, respectively. The word, pogrom, cannot be taken lightly. It is a term that is used to describe organized, government-sanctioned or condoned massacres and other atrocities carried out against minority groups, particularly, Jews, who have been on the receiving end of such violence for centuries. To give an idea of just how unwarranted Blackwell’s charge was, one need only cite examples of pogroms, such as the infamous Kristallnacht in Germany, which led to the murder of 91 Jews (by conservative estimates) and the concentration camp imprisonment of as many as 30,000 (a number of whom were later killed), or the 19th and early 20th Century pogroms of Russia which slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Jews and forced millions more to leave their homelands and migrate to countries such as the United States. It should be noted that one of the great ironies of Blackwell's "pogrom" claim is that one of his targets, Chai Feldblum, is a Jewish woman who grew up in an Orthodox household in which her father was an ordained Rabbi. She is also a highly regarded legal scholar, who is perhaps best known for her lead role in drafting and negotiating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. No doubt, Blackwell expects the heartless Feldblum to help carry out the president's deadly pogroms against Christians from her post as a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Despite his best efforts, Mr. Blackwell has not yet succeeded in scorching a clear-cut path toward the top of the Republican hierarchy. He lost by nearly 1 million votes in his run for Governor of Ohio in 2006 and peaked at a paltry 20 of 168 possible votes in his failed campaign for RNC Chair, a position that was won by the far less conservative and – believe it or not – less outlandish – Michael Steele in 2009.
While it is uncertain exactly which political role Blackwell will covet next, one thing is clear. When we consider Blackwell's recent political history in conjunction with his track record of outrageous comments, we can only conclude that there really is very little question as to whether he contributed to The BluePrint. On the contrary, we can only surmise that Mr. Blackwell played a major role in co-authoring this latest attempt to smear the Obama presidency. In so doing, he has done his part to contribute to the right wing’s ferocious, ongoing campaign to undermine and ultimately topple the President of the United States.