Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Art of the Continuation of Policies By Other Means

President Obama, after justifying his party's actions unilateral actions by noting that they won in 2008--and so could do what they wanted--doesn't seem to agree with the logical corollary--when you lose in 2010 (one house of Congress) you can't do what you want.

President Obama's fanboys (and girls) cheer him on as he prepares to bypass Congress because the House of Representatives has the votes to resist his policies.

His record on doing this already is pretty impressive. Here are some highlights:

Obama, a former constitutional law professor, was once skeptical of the aggressive use of presidential power. During the 2008 campaign, he accused President George W. Bush of regularly circumventing Congress. Yet as president, Obama has grown increasingly bold in his own use of executive action, at times to controversial effect.

The president (or his administration) has unilaterally changed elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); declared an anti-gay-rights law unconstitutional; lifted the threat of deportation for an entire class of undocumented immigrants; bypassed Senate confirmation of controversial nominees; waived compliance requirements in education law; and altered the work requirements under welfare reform. This month, the Obama administration took the highly unusual step of announcing that it will recognize gay marriages performed in Utah – even though Utah itself says it will not recognize them while the issue is pending in court.

Early in his presidency, Obama also expanded presidential warmaking powers, surveillance of the American public, and extrajudicial drone strikes on alleged terrorists outside the United States, including Americans – going beyond Mr. Bush's own global war on terror following 9/11. But more recently, he has flexed his executive muscle more on domestic policy.

There will be no more talk of "shredding the Constitution" from these fans of presidential action, as they shrieked when Bush 43 was in office and not trying to bypass Congress with such enthusiasm.

An Imperial Presidency? Pshaw! The man was a Constitutional law professor, his defenders say.

I'll stipulate the professor part. Hillary Clinton didn't think so. But his school says as a senior lecturer he was considered a professor. Fine. What difference, at this point, does it make?

But being a Constitutional law professor doesn't seem so much a reason President Obama would never, ever, shred the Constitution as it is an effort to know your enemy to better circumvent it.

Look, I don't think President Obama is laying the ground for a dictatorship. But he is gathering power into his hands at the expense of the legislature that would have been unacceptable had Bush tried to justify actions this way.

But no worries. The left will rediscover limits on executive power just as soon as a Republican sits in the Oval Office.