Can Pres. Obama rule by decree?....
CONGRESSMAN DENNIS. You have heard the maxim that the law is no respecter of persons. Do you agree with that?
THE PRESIDENT. Certainly it should be.
CONGRESSMAN DENNIS. Thank you, Mr. President.
During the summers of 1973 & 1974, as much drama was played out on the nation's television screens, the overarching theme that ultimately emerged as the lesson of Watergate was this: No one--not even an elected president--is above the law. Liberal Democrats had led the charge, and nearly all conservatives in both parties accepted this principle. The president had violated the "Take Care" Clause of the Constitution, which in pertinent part states that the president ...he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."
When candidate Barack Obama ran in 2008, he made much of having been a constitutional law professor. In fact he had been a teaching assistant, not a tenured professor. But he had taught constitutional law.
But now it is 2012, and pesky laws are interfering with the prime project of President Obama: securing re-election, so as to continue his project to socialize America.
Might the Justice Dept.'s "Fast & Furious" scandal--sending guns to Mexican drug cartels to track their use, which led, apparently, to the death of a border patrol agent--imperil O's prospects this fall? How can this possibility be precluded? Simple: claim "executive privilege"--protecting the confidentiality of most presidential and selected senior agency communications. And when the House sues for the documents, Team Obama's lawyers will easily string it out until well after November 6. Fred Thompson, who was minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee decades before he became a senator, explains why Obama's claim of privilege is abusive, and likely to fail. As Rich Lowry notes, Obama spills secrets when it benefits him. Jed Babbin offers more detail on Obama's overly broad pirivlege claim:
Because a president has to rely on his advisors, documents prepared by the advisors can be protected from disclosure by the "deliberative process" privilege to ensure a president can have access to the candid and informed advice he needs. But the scope of this privilege has, by Obama's overly-broad assertion of it, become the issue.
As the court wrote in In re Sealed Case, the deliberative process privilege can protect some of the communications of presidential advisors that do not reach the president himself. The court ruled that the deliberative process privilege is inextricably bound to the presidential advisory process. If the documents in question were prepared in response to a request by the president's staff for advice on a matter, even lower-ranking subordinates' work can be protected by the deliberative process privilege. Obama's assertion covers too many categories of documents that usually fall outside the privilege.
For example, documents that are summaries of facts are not usually protected nor are those that contain the analysis of facts and judgments of subordinates not involved in advising the president. From the descriptions of documents in the subpoena to Holder, it appears that most of the categories of documents requested fall outside the deliberative process privilege.
Babbin relies upon a major 1997 federal appeals court ruling on the scope of executive privilege. Oh, but did not President George W. Bush claim executive privilege over documents surrounding his A-G's firing of eight US attorneys? Yes he did, writes Andy McCarthy, who then explains the huge differences:
[T]he Bush situation involved (a) a non-crime (presidents do not need a reason to fire U.S. attorneys), (b) a non-scandal manufactured into a scandal (Bush 43 fired 8 U.S. attorneys; Clinton had fired 92 of the 93, and for no better reason than partisan patronage after he defeated Bush 41), and (c) patently improper subpoenas to the president’s personal staffers who are not subject to Senate confirmation and assist him in his constitutional duties. The Obama/Holder situation, to the contrary, involves outrageous government malfeasance in firearms transfers that led to murders, including the killing of a federal agent, and a patently proper subpoena for documentation maintained by the Justice Department, an agency created by Congress and dependent on Congress for its existence, funding and jurisdiction.
In a second NRO piece McCarthy details why top Justice Dept. officials surely were kept informed of the F&F program. Jon Stewart wittily skewers Obama, though he thinks that the G. W. Bush claims of executive privilege were equally without merit.
Also without merit: the false assertion by defenders of Team Obama that F&F began under Bush; in fact, the Bush operation,, dubbed "Wide Receiver," was very different: unlike F&F it was tightly controlled, and run in conjunction with Mexican authorities--and, most important, nobody was killed.
Operation Wide Receiver used the common law enforcement tactic of "controlled delivery" in which the illegal sales of weapons were allowed to take place, the movements of the weapons were closely monitored and the end purchasers were then apprehended. It involved gun-tracing, not gun-walking.
Under the "controlled delivery" of Wide Receiver, agents didn't just write down the serial numbers and let the guns disappear as in Fast and Furious. They closely and physically followed the guns from American dealers to straw purchasers to Mexican buyers.
F&F began under Obama, in 2009.
And then there is Charles Krauthammer, exposing the deliberate flouting of immigration law by President Obama, who issued an executive order effectively nullifying an act of Congress, granting amnesty to 800,000 illegals brought to the USA illegally by their parents. He did this despite having told Hispanic supporters this in 2011:
"With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations [of immigrants brought here illegally as children] through executive order, that's just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed."
-- President Obama, March 28, 2011
Later Obama said this: "America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the president, am obligated to enforce the law. I don't have a choice about that." Jonah Goldberg offers insights into why "O" tells lies with such frequency & fluency.
The law, it seems, does not stand in the way of pandering to Hispanic voters, whose votes are badly needed if Obama is to win re-election. And there is a bonus, noted by CK: Obama's act deep-sixes Sen. Marco Rubio's attempt to forge a compromise addressing illegals and their children, in the context of broader immigration reform. Can't share the credit and then paint Republicans as partisans unwilling to compromise with Democrats. Among potential citizens "O" apparently has no time for are skilled foreign students who, unable to get residency here, go home after soaking up US higher education.
Obama can also count on a complaisant mainstream media to minimally cover these doings instead of playing them as major scandals as would be the case with a GOP administration. Worse, as Mike Ledeen details, journalists often let Obama get away with lies--partly bias, partly laziness in vetting asserted facts. Thus, Obama will get away with both abuses of his executive authority. A president so self-absorbed as to ask potential contributors to send him money saved for weddings must believe he can get away with anything.
Ironically, as Fareed Zakharia notes, Mexico's improving economic prospects augur less future emigration of its citizens to the US.
Bottom Line. For Obama, self-styled former legal eagle, politics, it seems, trumps law--and for him politics trumps truth too.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Conservative Politics