Right Hooks

Finally, the Final Press Conference

Obama defends Manning decision, and promises more activism.

Nate Jackson · Jan. 19, 2017

National Review’s Jim Geraghty posted perhaps the best headline we’ve read all year: “Tonight, the Sun Sets on the Obama Administration for the Last Time].” Heck, that might be the best headline in eight years.

But Barack Obama isn’t gone just yet. Wednesday afternoon, America endured one last press conference with him. It was every bit as tedious as the previous 164, so we’ll simply counter two things: His defense of pardoning Bradley Manning and Obama’s future plans.

“Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence,” Obama said, referring to Manning’s transgender “female” alter ego. “The notion that the average person who is thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think that it goes unpunished, I don’t think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served,” Obama argued. “It made sense to commute — and not pardon her sentence. … I feel very comfortable that justice has been served, and a message has still been sent.”

A message has been sent, all right. As we explained yesterday, PFC Manning is the gender-dysphoric former Army intelligence analyst who was convicted by courts martial in 2013 for acts of espionage. Manning funneled almost 750,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks, endangering American and other lives. On conviction, he received a light 35-year sentence (serving just six of them) with a dishonorable discharge to follow. Manning’s espionage, which at the time he intimated was to impress his “partner,” ranks near the top of the most treacherous acts of treason in U.S. history.

And his commutation is a middle finger in the face of an American constituency with whom Obama has the lowest rating — American Patriots in uniform.

As for Obama’s future plans, the sun may be setting on his administration, but he’s not riding off into that sunset to live peaceably. He’s laying the groundwork for post-presidential activism. At his final press conference, he pledged to speak out as private citizen at “certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.” Explaining what that means, he said, “I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. I put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise. I put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press. And for me at least I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them somewhere else, when they love this country.”

In other words, if anyone deviates from or tries to undo his legacy, he’ll run to the nearest microphone. Is there any doubt the Leftmedia will happily provide him one?

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