Free Markets, Free People

Obama/Honduras – Still Not Getting It

From an Obama statement in Russia:

“America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies,” the president told graduate students at the commencement ceremony of Moscow’s New Economic School. “We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not. “

Again and again Obama stresses the fact that Mel Zelaya was “democratically-elected”. But the same could be said about many of today’s dictators. Elections are only one part of the democratic process. The other, and the one that sustains the electoral process, is the rule of law. Focusing only on the fact that Zelaya was “democratically-elected” but ignoring the fact that he has attempted to subvert Honduran constitutional principles that ensure such democratic elections is bad enough.

However, continuing that line of criticism after being apprised of the constitutional arguments and the process which led to Zeyala’s ouster is completely unacceptable. Yes, we back the right of people to democratically elect their leaders. But we must also back their decision, driven by the rule of law, to remove a leader when he refuses to follow the law he is sworn to uphold. Why is it that Obama, the “Constitutional law professor, doesn’t appear to “get” that?


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12 Responses to Obama/Honduras – Still Not Getting It

  • Has noone called him on this? Why hasnt someone asked obama how he can possibly support this nonsense?

    • I think that they’re too busy demanding that we try George Bush as a war criminal for helping Iraq establish a democracy.

  • Written constitutions tend to provide means for determining that an officeholder has lost his ability to hold an office, but it is rare that they specify what to do if the officeholder refuses to leave. Honduras apparently has a provision in its constitution that says that a President or Vice President loses his office merely by proposing to reform the term limits. In our case, of course, the only provisions for removing a President are by losing an election, being ineligible to run, or conviction by the Senate pursuant to a House-passed impeachment resolution.
    So here’s my question: if in the US, a President were to reject a Senate’s conviction, or to refuse to step down due to a lost election, or to attempt to run for a third term, what would we do about it? The Constitution provides no remedies: it merely forbids. Let’s take the example of running for a third term, both because it mirrors Honduras’ current situation more closely, and because it was a favorite fever-theme of the Left last year (oddly, even more about Cheney than Bush), and bids fair to become a favorite fever-theme of the Right in seven years.
    OK, so President X runs for a third term. While this is blatantly unconstitutional, so are 90%+ of the laws Congress has passed and a non-trivial amount of the actions of various presidents over the past eighty years or so. Let’s just say that President X has found a novel way to interpret the prohibition against a third term, and is sticking with it. Let’s further stipulate that President X has managed to force or convince his party into making him the nominee, and that the States put his name on the ballot, since that is who the party nominated. Now, if President X were to win, or lose and refuse to step down anyway, what would be the appropriate course of action?
    Let’s say that we decide to take this to the Supreme Court, and they rule that President X has to step down, and he refuses. OK, so we go to the Congress, and they impeach and convict President X, yet he still refuses to step down. Now what? At that point, if the military were to step in and forcibly remove President X, or if the Justice Department did, or if a State government did, have they acted unconstitutionally? More to the point, where were the violations of the rule of law?
    I think that it’s startlingly clear that Zelaya acted outside the bounds of the Honduran constitution. I think it’s clear that all of the other branches of government made their decisions, under their constitution, that Zelaya had to step down, and that he refused to do so. Further, it seems as if the Honduran constitution, as our own, has no doomsday provision for what to do when the president refuses the decisions of the other branches of government that he is not legally entitled to his office. At that point, what the Honduran government did was outside their constitution, but only because that is where Zelaya forced matters. And as I believe I demonstrated above, President X could similarly force such a situation here, where the only way to remove him would be for the military, a State, or an executive agency to act outside the Constitution and the law.
    Of course, there is always the alternative of revolution and civil war. Is that really the path this administration wants Honduras to go down? I suppose one thing has become clear out of this whole situation: the Obama administration is remarkably comfortable with the principle of “one man, one vote, one time.”

  • “America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies,” the president told graduate students at the commencement ceremony of Moscow’s New Economic School.


    Actually, that’s EXACTLY the reason Obama supports the man….

  • After listening to the State Department briefing the other day, I was impressed by the utter lack of knowledge by State as to the legalities involved. It’s no wonder the press is reporting it that way.
    Over and over again, it seems that State has lost it’s mind. If it’s not gifting DVDs that don’t play in the recipient’s home country, it’s an utter lack of knowledge as the the individual countries’ constitutional legalities. It seems that all those “professionals,” who were constantly complaining about George Bush’s moves, are now on permanent vacation or recovering from a lobotomy.


    Has noone called him on this? Why hasnt someone asked obama how he can possibly support this nonsense?

    And who would do that?  The national media is in love, there is a thrill up every leg, HuffPo and the national media are getting into arguments about who loves Obama more.

    Yes, don’t expect any challenges soon 🙂

  • Simple enough…Obama is a self propelled can of Spam.

  • “Why is it that Obama, the ‘Constitutional law professor’, doesn’t appear to ‘get’ that?”

    Because you study Constitutional Law for two reasons. To help hold up the spirit of the law and to circumvent the spirit of the law. Its obvious which camp Obama belongs to.

    Its also to establish a precedent that referendums or other institutions supercede Constitutions.

  • It severely irritates me that so many have made a fuss over Manuel Zelaya having been democratically elected, but very few seem to care that he was removed upon the orders of the Honduran congress, which also happens to have been democratically elected.  Few, if not no, people who have bemoaned Manuel Zelaya’s removal even seem to be aware that the congress and Supreme Court of Honduras were involved.  They saw that the removal had been conducted by the military and thence on, they operated automatically.

    • That, I believe is reflective of the media coverage that this issue is being given. Two hundred Zelaya supporters create a near riot near the airport and it is all over CNN. 100,000+ supporters of the current acting goverment peacefully show their support and the media is AWOL and nowhere is it seen. It is not hard to figure when that is occuring on a daily basis.

  • I love this article that describes Obama decision methodology.  Taking off on OODA (Observe Orient Decide Act), he describes it as PIDDLE 🙂