I began developing a thesis after last year’s presidential election, which is that President Obama has hacked our constitutional system of checks and balances. He worked the way conventional hackers do, finding and exploiting a hole or vulnerability in a system in order to defeat it. The vulnerabilities that Obama is exploiting are, on the one hand how dependence on government empowers Democrats and breeds more dependence on government, and on the other hand the means by which the Constitution spells out discipline for presidents who break the law. If presidential misbehavior rises to the level of “high crimes or misdemeanors,” the House must draft articles of impeachment, but the Senate must try and convict the president.
In current circumstances, the House under Republican control could draft a warehouse full of impeachment articles, but they will go nowhere because the Senate under Democrat control will never try or convict him. Of anything. Ever.
And in current circumstances, Obama need not care that his approval rating on the economy is so low. He has made himself the guarantor and defender of government largesse, and has built out his base by building up the nation’s welfare rolls to a historic high. Bad economies used to end American presidencies. But this bad economy only makes Obama’s hold on his voting base stronger.
So Barack Obama can do whatever he wants, and each day he pushes the limits on his power. Obamacare does not allow for delays in its funding mechanisms, but Obama delays it anyway, saying “In a normal political environment, it would have been easier for me to simply call up the speaker and say, you know what, this is a tweak that doesn’t go to the essence of the law. . . . It looks like there may be some better ways to do this, let’s make a technical change to the law. That would be the normal thing that I would prefer to do. But we’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to Obamacare. We did have the executive authority to do so, and we did so.”
There is, as George F. Will notes today, nothing in the Constitution that allows a president to do this. Obama is saying that it’s legal because the president is doing it, which is Nixon on steroids. Obama knows that the media will not call him on it, court rulings against him are increasingly meaningless, and the opposition party is either neutered or complicit.
Obama is threatening to raise taxes without an Congressional input. So far, there isn’t much meaningful opposition. Obama is threatening to legalize millions of illegal aliens quite outside the law and the legislative process if Congress continues to be “dysfunctional,” by which means that it doesn’t do exactly what he wants, when he wants it. It’s no empty threat; he actually did the same thing on a smaller scale last year, and instead of sparking a firestorm of controversy costing him the election, it brought out more voters to re-elect him. His latest threat gets backing from someone who should be railing against it and warning Obama of dire consequences, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. Rubio has made himself a handmaiden to and co-conspirator in Obama’s grand hack.
What Obama is doing overall is suspending the Constitution piecemeal and making statutes passed by Congress irrelevant. But it’s more than that. He’s making Congress itself irrelevant along with the courts, and hauling all meaningful power into his own hands.