Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Obama Imperial Presidency

With November fast approaching, the rhetoric is heating up as both the President and the soon-to-be-official challenger Mitt Romney are trying to define why each is different than the "other guy." A. Barton Hinkle--writing at Reason--offers a tongue in cheek piece, with regard to how far such attempts extend, how vital each side sees them:
My Side has produced a visionary program that will get the economy moving, put the American People back to work, strengthen national security, return fiscal integrity to Washington, and restore our standing in the international community. What does the Other Side have to offer? Nothing but the same old disproven, discredited policies that got us into our current mess in the first place.

Don’t take my word for it, though. I recently read about an analysis by an independent, nonpartisan organization that supports My Side. It proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that everything I have been saying about the Other Side was true all along. Of course, the Other Side refuses to acknowledge any of this. It is too busy cranking out so-called studies by so-called experts who are actually nothing but partisan hacks. This just shows you that the Other Side lives in its own little echo chamber and refuses to listen to anyone who has not already drunk its Kool-Aid.
Sound familiar? Such rhetoric could easily come from someone at either campaign. The non-partisan org part is particularly on point. Who says a given org, group, or person is non-partisan? Well, they may say it about themselves, but anyone can do that. Who else? Why, the person citing them for political advantage, of course. And witless media dupes. Hinkle continues with the mocking:
Besides, it’s clear that the people on the Other Side are driven by mindless anger – unlike My Side, which is filled with passionate idealism and righteous indignation. That indignation, I hasten to add, is entirely justified. I have read several articles in publications that support My Side that expose what a truly dangerous group the Other Side is, and how thoroughly committed it is to imposing its radical, failed agenda on the rest of us.
It's an effective, funny piece in my opinion. There is much truth here. But we need to be careful, because there is a growing body of evidence that suggests one of the current two sides actually is dangerous and radical, at least to those of us who still believe in liberty and individualism. That side is, of course, the one currently in power: Obama and his Administration.

In the 1960's and 1970's, the term "Imperial Presidency" became more and more common as a means of criticizing the "other side" when it was in power, but actually referenced a more general concern about the growth of Presidential power. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. even wrote a book entitled The Imperial Presidency in 1973 that described how such power had grown and evolved from Washington to Nixon, though Schlesinger updated it in 1989 and again in 2004, thus it now runs from Washington to George W. Bush.

And if we think back to the Bush years, the "Imperial Presidency of George Bush" was a common criticism, mostly from his opponents. There was a great deal of effort put in to criticizing the "unitary executive theory" that informed the Bush Presidency, particularly as regards Signing Statements, one of those things Obama once criticized but now exploits. Of course, the entire premise of such criticism has always been grossly misinformed and/or exaggerated:
Still, the Signing Statement controversies are largely manufactured. Aside from the statements having no legal authority, there is another matter: laws stay on the books until repealed or overridden by new laws. Not so for Signing Statements. They pass into history as quickly as the President that made them. Future Presidents and administrations are not constrained in any way by the Signing Statements of previous Presidents. The statements are footnotes, nothing more.
However, there was also the Bush Administration's supposed approval of torture, Gitmo, and some sort of assassination program. Consistent with Schlesinger's overall analysis, all of these things were effectively continued after Bush left office by the Obama Administration, thus appearing to demonstrate Schlesinger's argument: the Presidency is steadily growing in power.

I think Schlesinger is both correct and incorrect: the Office of the President has more power now than ever before, there is no question about that (notwithstanding FDR and his extraordinary action of "stacking" the SCOTUS). But the Federal Government as a whole and Congress in particular also exercise far more power than ever before. Some of the accrued power in both branches--Executive and Legislative--is a consequence of power struggles between the two. And such struggles have, in fact, led to the Judicial branch--in the form of the Supreme Court--increasing its power as well. In short, the trajectory Schlesinger identifies is less that of an Imperial Presidency and more that of an Imperial Government.

But as I noted above, there are other issues suggesting the current Administration is grabbing even more power, a dangerous amount even. Witness it's argument--via Holder and the Justice Department--with the State of Arizona, wherein it refused to enforce federal laws and took Arizona to court for trying to follow the same laws. Or it's aborted attempt to hold criminal trials in New York for enemy combatants whose status had already been established by the Supreme Court. Then there's ObamaCare and the various powers such legislation confers on the Department of Health and Human Services (rarely discussed in the media), powers not curtailed by Congressional authority.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. We also have the Dream Act executive order, wherein valid laws were essentially suspended by executive fiat. The regulatory burden on the private sector has also increased under Obama, far more than under any previous President, even though Obama's first term has not yet ended. And make no mistake: more regulations really mean more control, no matter how they are sold to the public. The EPA under Obama has literally gone wild, attempting to exert its influence wherever possible, beyond the limits imposed on it by law.

As this piece at the Wall Street Journal notes, the Obama EPA has been taken to task six times by Federal judges for overstepping it's authority. In the most recent decision, the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia halted attempts by the EPA to impose additional restrictions on the State of Texas, above and beyond controlling legislation--legislation enacted in 2011, under Obama--saying thusly in the ruling:
Absent a claim of constitutional authority (and there is none here), executive agencies may exercise only the authority conferred by statute, and agencies may not transgress statutory limits on that authority.
This is no small thing, though I doubt there will be much media attention paid to it. The Court is saying that the EPA--under Obama--was actually asserting authority it did not possess, something it should not--and therefore will not, in this case--do. But it begs the question: how many other times has the EPA actually gotten away with such a tactic under Obama? And by the way, if the Court had allowed this action by the EPA, it would have led to increased power costs for citizens in Texas and neighboring States, along with the loss of at least five hundred jobs. But never mind such trivial details, eh?

Overall, I think there is an inescapable conclusion here: Obama is steadily growing Executive power in ways never broached by previous Presidents. He thinks he is above Congress, that when it will not go along with him, he'll just do as he pleases because he's in charge, period. His arrogance, pettiness, and narcissism--coupled with the fanboy populism of his rule and his leftist ideology--have created a dangerous situation. I do not believe he can be trusted to serve four more years. Whether or not his opponent is the best man for the job has become immaterial. Because Obama is the worst man for the job, if that job has anything at all to do with protecting our liberty.

Cheers, all.

1 comment:

  1. He had an American citizen killed. I don't care what the circumstance, it's murder

    I don't like Romney or Paul. Don't think we need new leadership. We need a new government. This one is corrupted beyond repair