May 24, 2011 4:04 PM GMT
In a television interview last October, President Obama accidentally let slip a key element of his political philosophy: “We’re gonna punish our enemies, and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”
Obama later apologized — not for the underlying sentiment, mind you, but for his word choice. “I probably should have used the word ‘opponents’ instead of enemies,” the president declared.
This incident is worth remembering as the president prepares to issue a far-reaching executive order that would require the government to collect detailed information about the political activities of anyone applying for a federal contract. The proposed order would require businesses to furnish, with each contract proposal, a list not only of their contributions to political candidates and committees, but also their contributions to groups that do not under current law have to reveal their donors. The president’s order would force anyone seeking a federal contract to declare whether they are a friend or an enemy — excuse me, “opponent” — of the Obama White House. Worse still, it would set up a central database listing those contributions at a federal government Web site — creating what amounts to an electronic, searchable “enemies list.”