Friday, January 13, 2012
From what we've seen in the first three years of President Obama and his administration in action, I think it's fair to say that this President has little respect for the legal and traditional restraints on his power that previous Presidents have labored under, among them the cherished liberal hero, Franklin Roosevelt. President Obama has maintained that the Congress had no say in the actions he took in Libya. He has appointed numerous "czars" as a way to dilute the Congress's power to approve or deny Cabinet appointments. His Attorney General has at best been uncooperative in Congressional investigations into nefarious behavior in the Justice Department. Only last month he signed a budget extension bill while declaring at the same time that he didn't consider himself bound to enforce a number of the items in that bill, items which he had at that moment signed into law.
So now, upon return from his vacation, President Obama has made a few "recess appointments" to federal agencies that would normally require Senate approval. The history of recess appointments is basically a cat and mouse tale between the President and the Congress, with each side occasionally pulling sneaky moves the other side didn't see coming, but until now there has been at least one common feature: the Congress was always in recess when the recess appointment was made.
President Obama, being the alpha creative that he is, has found a way around this little problem: he has determined that the President can decide when the Senate is in recess, if he finds that the Congress is being obstinate and obstructionist in denying him approval of that appointment. Never mind that the Constitution states that Congress is the sole power in determining under which rules it will operate, including saying when it is or isn't in recess. This is one those cases where President Obama clearly understands more than the rest of us, and if he's got something that the country needs to get done, it's up to him to get it done himself, and to hell with any of those little obstacles in his way like the separation of powers and actual legal authority to act.
Since I haven't heard any talk from the Republican leadership in the House about drawing up articles of impeachment on the President, I'm going to assume this latest violation of his oath of office by Obama is going to stand for the time being until the matter has worked its way through the courts, which I assume could take years. So meanwhile, we have a President up for re-election who has a lot of things he'd like to see get done, with possibly less than a year to do it. What other tricks does he have up his sleeve? If the Supreme Court this summer decides that Obamacare is unconstitutional, will he abide by that, or will he incite a constitutional crisis by somehow defying the decision, and what would that lead to?
The President's party has almost unanimously stood behind him in this latest power grab, which I find very disturbing, though not surprising. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership don't seem to be worried about protecting the rights and power of Congress in all this, making them essentially collaborators in Obama's campaign to increase his powers at the expense of the Constitution. If Obama manages to prevail in the coming election, maybe we'll be treated to the spectacle of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi crowning Obama with a wreath a laurel leaves, proclaiming the dominion of our new leader, Seizer Obama. And then maybe he could hit both of them on the head with Nancy's giant gavel, just to remind them who's boss.
Posted by Doug Fletcher at 1:41 PM