Moral standards are hard to come by in America these days.
Most people think they have them. Most people will tell you they have them. But, for most people, they are not standards at all – because they change with the times and situations they face.
Barack Obama is a classic example of a moral relativist.
When he was running for president in 2008, he said it was unconstitutional for any president to use unilateral military power unless it involved an actual or imminent threat to the nation, he told the Boston Globe in a questionnaire.
“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” he wrote. “As commander in chief, the president does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the president would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.”
Today, Obama is threatening to do just that – attack Syria, which poses no threat to the U.S. His justification for the attack is that Syria has used chemical weapons against its own people. However, no evidence, other than repeated accusations, has even been offered to Congress or the American people.
Joe Biden is another example of a classic moral relativist.
In a presidential campaign event in Iowa in December 2007, he took an even stronger and more unequivocal position than Obama.
“I want to make it clear to you,” he said. “I’ve drafted, with the help of 17 years I was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee or the ranking member, ladies and gentlemen, I drafted an outline of what I think the constitutional limits [are] on the president [regarding] the war clause. I went to five leading scholars, constitutional scholars, and they drafted a treatise for me, and it’s being distributed to every senator. And I want to make it clear and I made it clear to the president, if he takes this nation to war in Iran, without congressional approval – I will make it my business to impeach him.”
To underscore his position, he later posted on his presidential campaign website the following statement: “It is precisely because the consequences of war – intended or otherwise – can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the president, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens. They reasoned that requiring the president to come to Congress first would slow things down … allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die … and ensure broader public support. The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. That’s why I want to be very clear: if the president takes us to war with Iran without congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment. I do not say this lightly or to be provocative. I am dead serious. I have chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. I still teach constitutional law. I’ve consulted with some of our leading constitutional scholars. The Constitution is clear. And so am I. I’m saying this now to put the administration on notice and hopefully to deter the president from taking unilateral action in the last year of his administration. If war is warranted with a nation of 70 million people, it warrants coming to Congress and the American people first.”
Of course, Biden is now fully in support of Obama’s plans to attack Syria, with or without congressional approval.
I could cite many other examples of Obama and Biden taking firm, principled positions when they applied to other people, but completely forgetting those principles when they applied to them. That’s not only an illustration of moral relativism, it’s the definition of hypocrisy.