Incidentally, Ed Morrissey notes that Saturday will be the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation:
The two concepts in the headline may sound disconnected, but they aren’t — and the fact that the connection may not be readily apparent speaks to the lessons unlearned from one of America’s most potent political crises. Ron Fournier sympathizes with the difficulties Barack Obama faces on immigration policy, and even with Obama’s policy goals. However, Fournier warns that the ends do not justify the means of trampling over the separation of powers and the rule of law:
Would it be wrong to end-run Congress? Another way to put it might be, “Would more polarization in Washington and throughout the country be wrong?” How about exponentially more polarization, gridlock, and incivility? If the president goes too far, he owns that disaster. …
Regardless of the justification, acting alone denies Obama a full view of the problem and, with no marriage of ideas, he almost certainly exacerbates the “dangerous impasse” that Brownstein labeled a civil war.
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat argues that this isn’t merely a case of a president responding to a do-nothing Congress. “It’s limited caesarism as a calculated strategy, intended to both divide the opposition and lay the groundwork for more aggressive unilateralism down the road.” If you don’t buy any other argument, consider this one: Endowing the presidency with extraordinary power would be an extremely short-sighted and selfish move.
Indeed — and it’s not as if we don’t already know the dangers of that. By an interesting coincidence, Saturday will be the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation, which he tendered when it became obvious that he would be impeached for his abuses of power. In my column for The Fiscal Times, I argue that the real lesson from the scandal was the reminder of the value of limitation on executive power and the rule of law. The rise of “caesarism,” which I also quote from Douthat, shows that we have not learned that lesson at all and still love executive power …. when exercised on behalf of our own hobby horses:
The Times, which in recent years has championed the “benefits” of one-party totalitarian government, and as we just saw, the elimination of the Constitution, is in rather poor shape to criticize President Nixon’s abuses of power. They’re perfectly fine trampling the Constitution — as long as it’s done by their approved president.