Ed Driscoll

'Obama Misunderstands His Constitutional Role in Domestic Matters'

At Ricochet, John Yoo writes, “President Obama continues to display his misunderstanding of the constitutional order by repeatedly inserting himself into matters reserved to the states and localities, such as the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, the location of a mosque near ground zero in New York City, and much of Arizona’s immigration bill:”

Obama’s intrusion into all of these matters has not just created a track record of political misstep after misstep; it has also wasted the valuable political capital of the presidency on matters that are not its business. Ultimately, this will make Obama weaker when it comes time for him to call upon the powers of his office for something truly important, such as maintaining a surge in Afghanistan, correcting his mistaken views on Guantanamo Bay, or balancing the budget.

Obama’s intervention also shows that he misconceived the constitutional priorities of his office. The president’s primary job is to protect the national security and conduct foreign affairs. The chief executive’s role in domestic affairs was primarily intended to be one of moderating Congress. Obama seems to wish that someone else would take the lead on national security, preferably the courts. And he seems to think his job is to push the domestic political system to extremes, not moderation — hence health care and now his assault on Wisconsin.

As we noted in mid-2009, it’s not easy being the inverse of von Clausewitz.