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December 12, 2015

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: No Political Guardrails: President Obama broke all the boundaries—and now Clinton and Trump are following suit.

Mr. Obama doesn’t need anyone to justify his actions, because he’s realized no one can stop him. He gets criticized, but at the same time his approach has seeped into the national conscience. It has set new norms. You see this in the ever-more-outrageous proposals from the presidential field, in particular front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Mrs. Clinton routinely vows to govern by diktat. On Wednesday she unveiled a raft of proposals to punish companies that flee the punitive U.S. tax system. Mrs. Clinton will ask Congress to implement her plan, but no matter if it doesn’t. “If Congress won’t act,” she promises, “then I will ask the Treasury Department, when I’m there, to use its regulatory authority.”

Mrs. Clinton and fellow liberals don’t like guns and are frustrated that the duly elected members of Congress (including those from their own party) won’t strengthen background checks. So she has promised to write regulations that will unilaterally impose such a system.

On immigration, Mr. Obama ignored statute with executive actions to shield illegals from deportation. Mrs. Clinton brags that she will go much, much further with sweeping exemptions to immigration law.

For his part, Mr. Trump sent the nation into an uproar this week with his call to outright ban Muslims from entering the country. Is this legally or morally sound? Who cares! Mr. Trump specializes in disdain for the law, the Constitution, and any code of civilized conduct. Guardrails are for losers. He’d set up a database to track Muslims or force them to carry special IDs. He’d close mosques. He’d deport kids born on American soil. He’d seize Iraq’s oil fields. He’d seize remittance payments sent back to Mexico. He’d grab personal property for government use.

Mr. Obama’s dismantling of boundaries isn’t restrained to questions of law; he blew up certain political ethics, too.

The press and political class let him burn it all down because they agreed with him, and besides he was black so to complain would be racist or something. Now they can’t figure out how to survive the wind that will blow, now that everything that can stop it has been removed.