Taken individually, none of Obama’s unilateral maneuvers are particularly outrageous; presidents have been making similar moves for decades now. And yet together they represent a break from the past. Unlike most his predecessors—think FDR inventing the modern administrative state during the Great Depression, or Bush pushing the limits of torture and surveillance after Sept. 11—Obama is not expanding executive power to meet the demands of an external crisis. Instead, he is counteracting a new pattern of partisan behavior—nonstop congressional obstruction—with a new, partisan pattern of his own.Using the excuse that others have done it before isn't good policy-and it's never a good precedent.
The result is an extraconstitutional arms race of sorts: a new normal that habitually circumvents the legislative process envisioned by the Framers. On one side of the aisle, Republicans are providing a blueprint for minority parties to come, demonstrating how it is possible, and politically advantageous, to use procedural tricks to incapacitate a president they oppose. On the other side of the aisle, Obama is drafting a playbook for future presidents to deploy in response: How to Get What You Want Even If Congress Won’t Give It to You. “Obama is the first president to use his unilateral powers so routinely, especially in the domestic sphere,” says University of Virginia presidential scholar Sidney Milkis, a self-described moderate Democrat. “And in some ways, that may be more insidious than what came before.”
And so the question now is not whether the presidency has changed Obama. It’s whether Obama is changing the presidency.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Passing The Imperial Torch (And Buck)
Why the legacy of Obama's imperial policy is so troubling: