May 3, 2013

QUACKING LIKE A LAME DUCK? Peggy Noonan:

I think we’re all agreed the president is fading—failing to lead, to break through, to show he’s not at the mercy of events but, to some degree at least, in command of them. He couldn’t get a win on gun control with 90% public support. When he speaks on immigration reform you get the sense he’s setting it back. He’s floundering on Syria. The looming crisis on implementation of ObamaCare has begun to fill the news. Even his allies are using the term “train wreck.” ObamaCare is not only the most slovenly written major law in modern American history, it is full of sneaked-in surprises people are just discovering. The Democrats of Washington took advantage of the country’s now-habitual distractedness: The country, now seeing what’s coming in terms of taxes and fees, will not be amused. Mr. Obama’s brilliant sequester strategy—scare the American public into supporting me—flopped. Congress is about to hold hearings on Boston and how the brothers Tsarnaev slipped through our huge law-enforcement and immigration systems. Benghazi and what appear to be its coverups drags on and will not go away; press secretary Jay Carney was reduced to saying it happened “a long time ago.” It happened in September. The economy is stuck in low-growth, employment in no-growth. The president has about a month to gather himself together on the budget, tax reform and an immigration deal before Congress goes into recess. What are the odds?

I’d like to see us learn the lesson of ObamaCare — and of the gun debate. No more “gangs,” no more hurry-up votes on incredibly long bills that no one has read. Normal order: Committee hearings in both houses, markups, votes without special closed rules, conference committees to resolve differences. In other words, a deliberative process. If Obama hadn’t been trying so hard for a “win,” he wouldn’t have abandoned that approach for basically his entire presidency. He still didn’t win much — except for ObamaCare, and the bills for that “win” are coming due.

UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes that he’s quacking like a Chavista:

You write, that If Obama hadn’t been trying so hard for a “win,” he wouldn’t have abandoned that approach for basically his entire presidency. He still didn’t win much — except for ObamaCare, and the bills for that “win” are coming due.

Whatever his motives, and there have been many proposed over the years, one can no longer doubt his disdain for normal order in the legislative process. His repeated attempts, with allied factionalists in the legislature, to circumvent when possible, and bulldoze when necessary, normal order set this administration apart. Others have done so in the past, but none without a clear electoral mandate. Obama and his administration have repeatedly proven themselves more of a kind, in aspiration and action, with the Chavistas’ thuggish majoritarianism than with legislative majorities, and their actions, assembled by FDR or LBJ.

Yes, that’s right. It’s a classic New Left disregard for institutions.

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