[Fred, who sent me this one, prefaced it by writing, “You’ll love this.” He was right. I do. I also hate it.]
News Item ( Austin 360):
“Following his speech at the Paramount, President Obama’s motorcade traveled to Franklin Barbecue on East 11th Street. The restaurant is well known for its great brisket and extremely long waits, but the president circumvented that using the powers of his office. “I know this is a long line. I feel real bad, but – I’m gonna cut,” Obama said, according to a pool report from the Statesman’s Chuck Lindell. [Owner] Aaron Franklin told the Statesman’s Ciara O’Rourke that nobody cuts the line at Franklin … except Obama.”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:
Is it ethical for the President of the United States to cut into a line for goods or services?
Can you guess my answer?
It’s not just “no,” but “Hell, no!”
Talk about the Imperial Presidency! There is no basis, justification or excuse whatsoever for the President to cut into line under these circumstances, especially by saying, “I’m gonna cut.” The proper answer to that, my friends, is “No, you’re not, Mister President. Why don’t you ask politely, and maybe everyone ahead of you will be magnanimous and agree?”
Obama—why is it that I’ve had to write this so often?—isn’t a king. He doesn’t have the power or the right to order you, me or any of the diners at Franklin’s to do his bidding, including to give up their places in line. Does he think that there is some kind of job hierarchy in this country, where billionaires like Bill Gates can jump in front of superstars like LeBron James, LeBron can cut in front of a CEO, who can jump ahead of bank VPs, then bank VP’s can cut in front of graphic artists, graphic artists can cut in front of auto mechanics, and the President can cut in front of all of them, because he’s the Biggest Cheese of All?
This is the United States of America, not Brunei, and our society doesn’t work that way. The President wasn’t in a legitimate rush to do an official duty—though he should have been—he was campaigning, because that’s really all Obama knows how to do. Swell. That doesn’t give him the right to get his barbecue before citizens who have been standing in line longer than he has.
It makes me angry that we have a President who thinks this way, and it makes me angry that we have subservient citizens who tolerate such conduct from leaders.
I live in the Washington, D.C area, and I see VIPs try to pull this stuff all the time. It’s despicable. It is the official, unspoken version of “Do you know who I am?,” and it works, because who wants to tell a powerful leader that he’s out of line? Well, we all should. Shame on the customers at Franklin’s—what’s happened to Texas?
I am not generally a Chuck Shumer fan. Yet the New York Senator was behind me in the security line—I was at the end— for the New York to D.C. shuttle recently, and we were both late. His aide tried to push him ahead in line, and Shumer, to his great honor and credit, said, quietly, “Don’t do that. I can wait like everyone else.” And that was when I recognized his voice and turned around—I had been preparing to grab his aid by the shoulder and shove him back. I said to Shumer, “Senator, you can go ahead of me if you want,” and he said, “Thank you so much. You are very kind…that will help.” Interestingly, that was his ultimate position in line—in front of me, behind many more. He didn’t ask anyone to give way, and none of the other fliers in line volunteered their place. Good for them, and good for Shumer.
And bad for Obama, and bad for the Texas barbecue fans who allowed him to assert a superiority he does not have. Small moments can have great significance. I really don’t like what this minor incident tells me. Not one bit.
Post Script: Mediaite’s story, by Tina Nguyen on the incident airily dismisses the it, saying that this is “one more thing for Republicans to grumble about.” Really? Really Tina? Only Republicans resent their leaders acting as if they can claim special privileges that exceed their power and debase the concept of democracy?
Good to know.