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Capitol Idea: The President Can Make ‘Democracy Stronger’ at Ft. Bragg

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In a highly publicized appearance in China earlier this week, President Obama lectures the Chinese against political censorship. He goes so far as to invite criticism of him personally, saying such debate makes "our democracy stronger."

But the end of the week back home, the Army bans media coverage of once — and perhaps future — Obama rival Sarah Palin because the service fears political statements against the president among troops who may come out to see the Republican former Alaska governor.

Anyone across the political spectrum easily sees here a disturbing double standard emerging.

Obama was right in China in arguing for openness and non-censorship in the town hall meeting he held in Shanghai when he said:

"But the truth is that because in the United States information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear. It forces me to examine what I'm doing on a day-to-day basis to see, am I really doing the very best that I could be doing for the people of the United States."

Unfortunately someone at Fort Bragg didn't get that particular memo when they decided to ban reporters from covering Palin's book tour stop there — an event that otherwise is completely on-the-record and open to the public.

The 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, Palin is on the road to promote her new book, Going Rogue. And she may well wind up facing off against Obama as the GOP's presidential nominee in 2012.

Outrage over the Army's media ban has nothing to do with what you think of Palin as a person or politician. One can disagree entirely and intensely with the full range of Palin's policies and politics and still find the Army's decision wrong and indefensible.

What makes matters worse is that Army's reported basis for its decision is specifically based on nothing more than shielding Obama from potential embarrassment.

The Associated Press and the The Fayetteville Observer are right to protest the decision.

As it stands, Obama shouldn't be held directly responsible for the Army's media ban at Fort Bragg. Indications are that he did not directly influence or countenance the decision. It obviously comes from those much further down the chain of command.

Obama may not have initiated the decision, but it would be wrong for him to benefit from it.

As the Commander in Chief, Obama can reverse the media ban and allow reporters and cameras to Fort Bragg to cover whatever happens when Palin arrives to sell her books — even if the troops embrace Palin and criticize Obama.

Doing so will eliminate any air of hypocrisy on his stated position against censorship — and nothing would put a stronger exclamation point on his message to the Chinese a world away.

 

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About Scott Nance

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Wow, more censorship! Pathetic but no surprising.

  • Arch Conservative

    President Obama lectures the Chinese against political censorship.

    RUH ROH (Scobby doo sound)

    Didn’t Obama just a few months back tell the American people they were “listening to the wrong talk shows and watching the wrong TV networks”?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Yes, Arch, he did. Pretty pathetic!

  • zingzing

    why are they banning the press? and archie, christine, you do see that the author does state that obama had nothing to do with it, yeah? so what’s the reason for it? there has to be some reasoning behind the decision, but i can’t fathom what it could be.

    although it is pretty funny to see you fall all over yourselves blaming obama for something he had no part of. natch.

    and fox news is a joke. a joke, i tell you!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Zing, I’m not blaming Obama. Here is the latest though…

    Army Allowing Media to Cover Palin Event at Fort Bragg

  • Arch Conservative

    Yeah I didn’t blame Obama for Fort Bragg in my post either but rather than deal with the fact that Obama is the most hyper sensitive thin skinned president we’ve ever had and he has a desire to tell the American people where they should be getting their news, zing would rather just go off on a tangent about something that didn’t happen.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    I agree Arch!

  • zingzing

    ok… so there’s an article about censorship… then you bring up obama and have a good laugh… fine, maybe you didn’t explicitly blame obama.

    “Obama is the most hyper sensitive thin skinned president we’ve ever had”

    how so? you keep saying that, but you never give any reason for it.

    “and he has a desire to tell the American people where they should be getting their news,”

    so do you… but i don’t think he ever told americans where to get their news. if he did, you show me. otherwise… shut it.

    and don’t you think you’re the one who went off on a tangent then? it looked to me as if you were trying to make some connection between obama and this ft. bragg censorship, which is what the article was sorta doing as well. of course, now you can back off it, but i can see right through you.

    oop. now it looks like the army is allowing it. imagine that.

    christine, stop being a little lap dog. everyone knows you agree.

  • Ruvy

    Scott,

    I don’t like your politics, and you do not like mine. But I have to applaud this particular article. At least you are holding Obama’s feet to the fire, demanding that he live up to his bragging overseas. And you are correctly castigating the military brass which thinks that kissing up to Obama by squelching what remains of free press in your country is a good policy to follow. We see too much of that garbage – the politicization of the military for the benefit of a few – here in Israel.

    It remains to be seen if Obama will follow the words of a supporter and do what is right. Frankly, I doubt it, but that is not the point. An Obama supporter is demanding that Obama do what is right, when his flunkies have done what is wrong. This is good to see.

  • zingzing

    “It remains to be seen if Obama will follow the words of a supporter and do what is right. Frankly, I doubt it”

    media is allowed in, ruvy. has been since yesterday. time to read the news before commenting on it.

  • Ruvy

    If the ban was reversed – good!

  • Arch Conservative

    Did you get your cyanide capsule when you voted for the one zing?

    You might wanna keep it handy.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “he has a desire to tell the American people where they should be getting their news”

    Bush did this as well, but then it’s tough be a partisan hack when you pay attention to details and history

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s hard not to be a partisan hack when you view yourself as one making history.

  • zingzing

    yes, archie. we operatives always keep the capsule between our teeth. ready to go! you can borrow mine if you like. it’s been in my mouth.

  • zingzing

    of course it was, ruvy. no one likes it when the military blatantly bans the press.