Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The presidency and the president deserve simple respect

    Rude, disrespectful and loutish caricatures of Barack Obama have been a constant since his election as president of the United States six years ago. Ameri-cans have the absolute right to think and say anything they like or dislike about the president, but when the results turn dangerous it is time to call a halt.
    Freedom of speech is sacrosanct, but that right can-not excuse Ares Armor, a gun manufacturer in Oceanside, Calif., who named a gun part “The Obama’s Blaster.” Owner Dimitrios Karras says the name is meant to reflect how gun sales have grown despite Obama’s supposed anti-gun beliefs. “It’s funny,” Kar-ras says.
    This name is not a joke. It’s an outrage. Naming a gun part in a way that even hints at use against the president is so far beyond the pale it leaves us sputter-ing.
    Assassination is the most heinous of acts. The as-sassination of a relatively obscure archduke started World War I. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln changed the outcome of the Civil War, and resulted in national and state policies that continue to affect race relations today. The world would surely have been a different place had John or Robert Kennedy lived.
    The office of the presidency usually accords its oc-cupant at least a minimum of respect. The failure of the current occupant to receive simple courtesies from detractors puzzles Europeans. These citizens of other democracies appreciate that no politician is univer-sally loved and admired. Even so, they wonder why Americans would so completely squander the good will and support that Obama represented for his nation during instances like his pre-election visit to Berlin in 2008.
    Ridicule and belittlement, as opposed to ideological opposition, reduce the personal aura of power that could make President Obama a more effective force when measured personally against figures like Vladi-mir Putin.
    Such musings are the purview of foreign policy wonks, but the sense that anything goes when it comes to this president is far beyond political discourse. For those who would argue against worrying about this gun manufacturer’s bad taste, assume the part has a differ-ent name. How about Romney’s Blaster or Palin’s Blaster or Ron Paul’s Blaster?
    No matter that people have every right not to agree with this president’s policies, beliefs or even clothing choices, the president is not a joke. The presidency is not a joke. The person Americans elect to the office deserves more than careless acts and reckless talk.

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