The fact that something is technically legal does not make it ethical, honest, or right. Barack Obama’s use of a portion of the Presidential Seal in his campaign underscores his total lack of character, ethics, and integrity but, as he did not use the complete seal, he did not actually break the law. (Disclaimer: we are not qualified to give formal legal advice.) “What he did was dishonest and unethical but admittedly legal” is, however, very faint praise for someone who wants Americans to trust him with enormous authority and control of nuclear weapons. It is in fact a Federal crime to use the Seal of the President to “convey a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States.”
- § 713. Use of likenesses of the great seal of the United States, the seals of the President and Vice President, the seal of the United States Senate, the seal of the United States House of Representatives, and the seal of the United States Congress (a) Whoever knowingly displays any printed or other likeness of the great seal of the United States, or of the seals of the President or the Vice President of the United States, or the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or the seal of the United States Congress, or any facsimile thereof, in, or in connection with, any advertisement, poster, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, public meeting, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production, or on any building, monument, or stationery, for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
Obama’s “Presidential Seal” is obviously not the real one, so he did not violate U.S. Code Title 18, Section 713. It is sufficiently similar, however, to convey to his audience that he is or will be the President. While the Obama campaign has been careful to obey the letter of the law, its intention is to convey a false and fraudulent air of gravitas which is consistent with the cult-like rock star aspect of his entire campaign. We have seen pictures of Obama surrounded by people, mostly women, who are desperate to touch him the way groupies struggle to touch a rock star. There are also posters of Obama in heroic poses similar to those used for Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin; that is, his campaign is using “leader worship” the way the Communists and Nazis once did.
This time, however, Obama may have taken a step too far. Although he did not actually break the law by using a device similar (but not identical) to the Seal of the President to promote himself, “he didn’t break the law” is the kind of faint praise that may finally bring this phony smile and empty suit crashing down.