Obama Skirts the Democratic Process
The president has exceeded his powers, and the GOP won’t stop him.
President Obama has fulfilled a second Tom Friedman fantasy — the first being that he is, in fact, President Obama. “I have fantasized#…#that, what if we could just be China for a day,” the New York Times star columnist gushed for his ponderous fellow travelers on Meet the Press. “I mean where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions.”
It was May 2010, not long after Obama and a Congress dominated by Democrats had rammed through Obamacare, the most sweeping government usurpation of private industry and individual liberty in American history. Soon they’d be adding Dodd-Frank’s paralyzing intrusion into the financial sector. Yet, despite the shock and awe of hope and change, here was the Progressive Poobah, grousing that “my democracy” was failing “to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness” as a totalitarian Communist dictatorship. After all, unburdened by our remnants of free-market competition, by the gridlock and sausage-making of two-party politics, the Chicoms produce trade and budget surpluses, state-of-the-art airports, and enviro-friendly high-speed rail. All we can manage, “on everything from the economy to environment,” Friedman complained, are “suboptimal solutions” — apparently not to be confused with the optimal Chinese menu of forced abortions, religious repression, secret police, kangaroo courts, and air you could cut with a chopstick.
#ad#Friedman is surely smiling today. So, we can assume, are other leftists, such as Peter Orszag, Obama’s former budget-overrun director, and Bev Perdue, the governor of North Carolina. Right after the midterm shellacking that swept Republicans into control of the House — a roadblock that has stymied some, but by no means all, of Obama’s transformational agenda — they said aloud what other Democrats were thinking: America’s problem is too much democracy. This week, the president solved that problem, shoving another page of the suboptimal Constitution through his made-in-China shredder.
In sum, Obama dissolved the separation of powers, the framers’ ingenious bulwark against any government branch’s seizure of supreme power — and thus the Constitution’s bulwark against tyranny. The president claims the power to appoint federal officers without the Senate’s constitutionally mandated advice and consent. He does so by claiming unilateral powers to dictate when the Senate is in session, a power the Constitution assigns to Congress, and to decree that an ongoing session is actually a recess. This sheer ukase, he says, triggers the part of the Constitution we’re keeping because he likes it — viz., the executive power to fill vacancies without any vetting by the people’s representatives.