I’m Glad Obama Skipped Paris

Posted on Wed 01/14/2015 by


McCarthyBy Andrew C McCarthy ~

20150113__ObamaParisMarchLUnlike many conservatives, I was not outraged when President Obama directed the Justice Department to end the pretense of “defending” the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I feel the same way about the president’s decision not to join dozens of world leaders in Paris last Sunday to march in favor of free speech and against Islamic-supremacist terror. I’m glad he stayed home. I’m glad he didn’t send Vice President Biden (whose main job is to attend such exhibitions), Secretary of State Kerry (whose main job escapes me), or Attorney General Holder (who was in Paris but still didn’t go).

It’s not too often that the “most transparent administration in history” is, what’s the word? . . . transparent.

To be sure, in the immediate time frame of these decisions, Obama was moved more by frivolity than by principle. On DOMA, he needed to make a gesture to well-heeled donors on the left who, in their frustration over the president’s too-slow “evolution” on gay marriage, were withholding campaign cash. As for Paris, I suspect Obama wanted to watch the pro-football playoffs (which is why –  shades of Benghazi! – the White House refused to reveal what the Leader From Behind Of The Free World was doing in lieu of attending the free world’s march).

Nevertheless, even if the two decisions were not made for noble reasons, they represented Obama’s true positions. It is important that we know where the president stands.

Obama was always against DOMA, always in favor of gay marriage. He adopted the “evolution” pose because his true position was politically risky. (I resist saying it was politically “unpopular” because gay marriage is not as unpopular as it was just a few years ago). Back then, he wanted to get elected and reelected; he still cared enough to feign support for what he opposed in order to remain viable.

I was glad when Obama came out of the closet, so to speak. Put aside the benefits of transparency. The president’s gamesmanship on DOMA was not cost-free hypocrisy. As Ed Whelan has shown, in ostensibly defending the statute, Holder’s Justice Department was actually sabotaging the litigation – forfeiting some of the best arguments in DOMA’s favor. When the Obama administration switched sides, it was at least possible to replace the Justice Department with counsel who would zealously represent the cause they were advocating.

Of course, the fact that the Justice Department would now be on the other side decreased the pro-DOMA side’s prospects of winning. The reversal may well have swayed the Supreme Court. (See Ed Whelan’s assessment of the incoherent and lawless majority opinion, here.) Even under Holder’s baleful stewardship, the Justice Department remains influential with the federal courts.

Still, it is better to know where policymakers really stand. As I argued in Faithless Execution, most conservatives do not begrudge the Obama administration’s right to disagree with us. We object to the administration’s dishonesty in conveying its policy preferences and its lawlessness in imposing them.

That brings us to Sunday’s march in Paris, where well over a million people – but no one of note from the United States government – gathered to defend free speech.

The show of international solidarity in the immediate aftermath of last week’s jihadist atrocities was very moving. But let’s not kid ourselves: It was rife with hypocrisy. Throughout what has become of Europe under the leadership of those who marched, Charlie Hebdo’s lampooning of Islam is regarded as actionable “hate speech.” Prior to last week, these preening progressives could reliably be found appeasing Islamists by prosecuting publication of the same words and images they made a show of celebrating on Sunday. Are you holding your breath waiting for that to change?

Me neither.

And that’s just the craven Western leaders. Also front and center at the rally were Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. These men are notorious promoters of jihadist terror and the sharia repression of speech it enforces. Erdogan is a significant backer of Hamas and Hezbollah who admonishes that it is a “crime against humanity” to urge Muslims to assimilate and adopt Western principles like free expression. Abbas, who is now in a unity government with Hamas, has a long history of brazenly endorsing terrorism (“resistance”) against Israel.

Both Turkey and the Palestinian Authority – along with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other Islamist governments – are enthusiastic proponents of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) project to impose sharia standards worldwide. As University of Tennessee law professor Robert C. Blitt relates in a USA Today op-ed this week, Islamic law’s repressive blasphemy rules are at the top of their wish list – to impose them on the world as they are imposed “in a vast arc of Islamic countries from Morocco in the West to Indonesia in the East.”

The Obama administration has been the lead Western partner in that project for six years, since the first days of Obama’s presidency.

The Islamist-progressive alliance I explored in The Grand Jihad would have you believe that accommodating sharia blasphemy rules would result in only a narrow limitation on free expression crudely obnoxious toward Islam, the sort of thing few of us would lament – e.g., expression analogous to the nauseating Piss Christ. This, however, is simply false.

A version of this piece previously appeared on National Review Online.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor  Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, author of  Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad and blogs at National Review Online’s The Corner.