Barack Obama has been campaigning for reelection as a reasonable man, a common-sense leader with a steady hand. His stated goals for a second term in office are modest and centrist, if a bit vague on the specifics: create jobs, improve infrastructure, fight global warming.
Of course, that’s just one Barack Obama. Then there’s the other one—the one his campaign won’t be telling you about. This other Obama has plans. Secret plans.
For starters, he’s going to dismantle the Second Amendment. According to Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association, the president is overseeing a “very real, very dangerous conspiracy of public deception,” which centers on a scheme to “lull gun owners into a false sense of security, and play us for fools in the 2012 election.” This Obama is also planning to take over hundreds of thousands of acres of private property and turn it over to the federal government, blocking the American public from access to the country’s natural resources. On the foreign policy front, he has hatched a plan to transform America into an Islamic nation by bringing tens of millions of Muslims into the country. And according to a book to be published next month, he plans to reduce funding for the Army, and then use what’s left of it to combat global warming and poverty.
On the fringes of American politics, on conservative radio, and even on the campaign trail, a whole parallel Obama has emerged over the course of the 2012 race—a shadowy figure who has craftily concealed his ideological extremism and is merely awaiting his second term to unleash it. Taken as a whole, this other Obama—and what you might call his “Muahahaha strategy” of post-election bait and switch—offers a vivid picture of the fears that the president has inspired in some critics, fears that appear only to have grown during a real-life first term that has failed to produce much in the way of radical legislation.
As fanciful as they may sound, these rumors reflect something real in the nation’s political imagination—and shine a light on the particular kind of distrust that tends to accumulate around those in power. And they’re also seeping into mainstream political discourse, even into the race itself. Mitt Romney has invoked the issue of Obama’s secret intentions, telling a group of newspaper editors recently that Obama “doesn’t want to share his real plans before the election, either with the public or with the press,” and that it was up to journalists to make him come clean. “His intent is on hiding; you and I are going to have to do the seeking,” Romney said. “He wants us to reelect him so we can find out what he’ll actually do.”
Accusing one’s political opponents of harboring secret plans has a rich tradition in American politics. In 1800, according to David Mark, the author of “Going Dirty: The Art of Negative Campaigning,” supporters of Thomas Jefferson suggested that rival John Adams secretly wanted to reinstate the British monarchy. Sixty years later, Southern politicians pressed for secession from the Union in part because they believed that president-elect Abraham Lincoln had a secret agenda not to stop slavery’s expansion, as he claimed, but to abolish it entirely.
But in modern times, no presidential candidate has been accused of keeping more secret plans in his back pocket than Obama. Part of it is rooted in suspicion of his strange name and his ethnic background, of course, but it’s more than that. The speed of his ascent to national fame, his early days as a hipster in New York, even the fact that he may or may not be sneaking cigarettes outside the Oval Office, have all combined to fuel a frothy, nightmarish vision of a comic-book-style supervillain: frightening, fascinating, and very good at hiding things.
So what are the top items on Obama’s secret agenda, and where did they come from? To try to find out the full story is to take a tour of some of the more freewheeling corners of conservative journalism, and also to glimpse just how differently a policy can look if you tilt it a certain way.
Take our guns. Perhaps the most widely circulated theory about Obama’s secret intentions is that he’s going to go after the rights of gun owners and eventually abolish the Second Amendment. NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre has called it a “silent but sophisticated long-term conspiracy,” warning NRA members that a second Obama term would bring “a full-scale, sustained, all-out campaign to excise the Second Amendment from our Bill of Rights through legislation, litigation, regulation, executive orders, judicial fiat, international treaties—in short, all the levers of power of all three branches of government.”Continued...