April 2nd, 2010

Obama the constitutional law scholar…

may not worry about what the procedural rules are in the House or the Senate, as he told Brett Baier. But it is heartening to learn that the majority of the American people still do:

A new Gallup poll shows that a majority of Americans believes Democrats abused their power by using procedural shortcuts and controversial parliamentary tactics to pass the new national health care makeover…The poll asked, “Regardless of whether you favored or opposed the health care legislation Congress passed this past week, do you think the methods the Democratic leaders in Congress used to get enough votes to pass this legislation were an abuse of power or were an appropriate use of power by the party that controls the majority in Congress?” The results: 53 percent say the Democrats’ methods were an abuse of power, while 40 percent say they were appropriate.

Breaking down the results by party, 86 percent of Republicans say the Democrats abused their power, while 58 percent of independents agree. Nineteen percent of Democrats say their own leaders abused their power, while 70 percent say Democratic methods were appropriate.

The party breakdown is interesting as well. It follow the pattern of polls on many issues lately, with Independents siding largely with Republicans and the Democrats standing alone in a different universe. This was how the Republican victories in Virginia and New Jersey and Massachusetts were accomplished. And this would be the required road if the Republicans are to win back the House and possibly even the Senate in 2010.

I take notes and write drafts for quite a few posts that never see the light of day. Some time ago—I think late in the 2008 presidential campaign—I noticed that then-candidate Obama almost never used the word “liberty” in his speeches. When I did an exhaustive search on it in preparation for a post I never did write, I found that, although “social justice” and “justice” and “fairness” came in for a lot of praise from Obama in his speeches, and “freedom” was mentioned now and then, “liberty” seemed to go missing for the most part.

In his scripted speeches, Obama tends to choose his words very carefully. So even back then I didn’t think that the paucity of references to liberty was an accident. Nothing that Obama has done since has convinced me otherwise; in fact, it has become increasingly clear that he believes that his version of social justice trumps liberty, and that he is determined to impose it on us whether we like it or not, and that he has the full cooperation of the Democratic Congressional leaders and almost all Democrat members of Congress in doing so—and that the rules that protect us from such encroachments on liberty are seen by them as annoying obstacles to be gotten around.

You can’t say Pelosi didn’t warn us. She made it crystal clear two months ago:

I am heartened by the fact that Americans appear to be aware of this willingness of Congress and the President to abuse their power. I am disheartened by the fact that the people seem more concerned with liberty than their own government is. But the Founding Fathers knew this might someday be the case. Let us hope that the safeguards they placed in the Constitution long ago will suffice to protect us now, and help us to protect ourselves. We will need every one of those safeguards.

26 Responses to “Obama the constitutional law scholar…”

  1. Hong Says:

    It does hearten me that so many are paying attention to this abuse of power but what good will it do if Senate Republicans are too frightened to fight on their behalf? Already some are backing away from full repeal including Scott Brown. Barf

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Hong: I’m hoping that’s more of a PR and a practical thing on their part. Full repeal cannot happen till after 2012, if you do the math. Obama could (and would) veto anything they pass, even if they were to gain control of both houses. So it makes sense to talk about reform, and repeal later.

    Scott Brown was never going to be a big conservative. He was always a moderate conservative, although not exactly as bad as a RINO. He is from Massachusetts, remember. He is much better than the alternative, but don’t look to him for conservative leadership.

    Of course, never underestimate the ability of Republicans to go wimpy. But I don’t see that happening at this point, anyway. Yesterday, even John McCain was talking about defunding it in 2010. That’s a good sign, at least.

  3. PA Cat Says:

    If Doug Ross is correct, Teh Won was not much of a constitutional law scholar: (via Gateway Pundit):

    I spent some time with the highest tenured faculty member at Chicago Law a few months back, and he did not have many nice things to say about “Barry.” Obama applied for a position as an adjunct and wasn’t even considered. A few weeks later the law school got a phone call from the Board of Trustees telling them to find him an office, put him on the payroll, and give him a class to teach. The Board told him he didn’t have to be a member of the faculty, but they needed to give him a temporary position. He was never a professor and was hardly an adjunct.

    The other professors hated him because he was lazy, unqualified, never attended any of the faculty meetings, and it was clear that the position was nothing more than a political stepping stool. According to my professor friend, he had the lowest intellectual capacity in the building. He also doubted whether he was legitimately an editor on the Harvard Law Review, because if he was, he would be the first and only editor of an Ivy League law review to never be published while in school (publication is or was a requirement).


  4. neo-neocon Says:

    PA Cat: I agree that he probably was not a great constitutional law scholar. But he continues to hold himself out as such. On the other hand, he might know a lot about the Constitution without respecting it or liking it. He can use his knowledge of its vulnerabilities to understand the best ways to get around it.

  5. PA Cat Says:

    Neo, I know that he has that opinion of himself– and that’s why I think the feedback from real scholars still matters.

  6. Bill West Says:

    It’s likely that the 53% comprise the ones who will be paying the bills and the 40% believe that their lot will be improved.

    Or, as Geroge Bernard Shaw put it, “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul.”

  7. gcotharn Says:

    Obama’s not a scholar. He just plays one on the campaign trail.

    Obama’s speech references to justice reminded of chipsilicon’s SAT analogy:

    social justice:justice

    (b)three-card monte:contract bridge

    And, one could go scatological:

    (e) hillbilly:Ned Beatty

  8. Tim P Says:

    Neo, I have to disagree with your statement, “Full repeal cannot happen till after 2012.”

    If enough republicans are elected in 2010 AND enough scared demorcats in vulnerable districts that will be up for election in 2012 vote together, it can be repealed.

    Will that happen? Possibly, but not very likely. Already the republicans are iching away from that position. Ever with their finger to the wind, if they see the zeal for repeal fading, their resolve will also fade.

    I am increasingly discouraged by the republicans and becoming ever more convinced (than I already was) that both major parties are;
    1. Solidly entrenched in power and
    2. systemically corrupt

    I suspect that as in ’80 and again in ’94, when the many new republican faces appear in the House and the Senate, they will soon grow to like the power and the perks and become totally co-opted.

    I have often wondered why that is and I suspect that the way candidates must get funding and publicity lends itself to naturally selecting the most pathological instead of the best qualified. Besides, in the poisoned atmosphere of the last two decades, most decent folks would rather not run.

  9. csimon Says:

    While I take heart in the trend of independents to be more in agreement with Republicans currently, I actually find it quite distressing that anyone — let alone so many — believe passing ANY issue whatsoever justifies the abuse of power and undermining the Constituion. Those numbers supporting what we have just witnessed the President of the United States and the majority leadership do in the name of passing their favored legislation are way too high for my comfort, even if they support said legislation.

    It leaves one wondering just how important is the rule of law vs. how OK it is to abuse or manipulate said rule of law if we “need to” in order to get what we want?

  10. rickl Says:

    Tim P Says:
    April 2nd, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    I have often wondered why that is and I suspect that the way candidates must get funding and publicity lends itself to naturally selecting the most pathological instead of the best qualified. Besides, in the poisoned atmosphere of the last two decades, most decent folks would rather not run.

    I think that has a lot to do with it. Practically everybody has a skeleton or two in their closet; a shameful or embarrassing act or statement they wish they had never made and would just as soon forget. Most normal people wouldn’t want their most embarrassing moments plastered all over the media 24/7.

    One thing that gives the Left an advantage is that they believe that government is the solution for every problem. Conservatives believe that government is at best a necessary evil, and should be as small and as narrowly focused as possible. So people on the left side of the spectrum tend to gravitate toward positions in government and regulatory agencies. People on the right tend to shun “public service” and concentrate on running a business and making a living in the private sector.

  11. betsybounds Says:

    This is where the Democrats have it all over the Republicans–in their willingness to bend, break, ignore, and destroy rules, laws, and founding documents and principles. And this willingness is just another of their weapons–bringing cannons to a sling-shot fight, to play on a popular idiom. The Republicans haven’t similar cods. I remember back in 2002, I think it was, when the Dems shredded New Jersey election law (with the aid of the Jersey Supreme Court) to rid themselves of the inconveniently tarnished Bob Torricelli and keep that Senate seat under Democrat control. That was almost certainly not the first time, but it’s the biggest earlier one I can recall, and they’ve been at it ever since, more brazenly all the time. They are wreckers. This is a revolution.

    The Republicans, on the other hand, can’t bring themselves to exert a similar level of ruthlessness. They grew comfortable with minority status during the long years of Bob Michael and the 40-year Democrat dominance in the House, and learned to live with it and even, in curious ways, make it work for them now and then. That’s certainly not the entire explanation, but I think it is some of it. They seem sometimes like a natural minority–when they lost their majority in 2006, I felt a bit as though I could almost hear them heave a huge sigh of relief, as though they were coming home. Let the other guys do the heavy lifting.

    And of course the nature of the war these Republicans–and by extension, we–are in escapes them completely.

  12. rickl Says:

    An example of a skeleton in my closet:

    I’m very fond of reading, and I have a wide variety of interests. I mostly buy books rather than go to libraries. Some recent books I have purchased were about the Wright Brothers, the history of telescopes, the Battle of the Marne in 1914, submarine disasters, manned stratospheric balloon flights in the 1950s, the 1908 baseball season, and the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

    When I was in college about 30 years ago, I read the assigned textbooks, and also spent some time in the campus library reading for pleasure.

    It so happened that the only book I ever actually checked out of the college library was the Communist Manifesto.

    I’ve often thought it would be cool to run for office just to see if my opponent could dredge up that fact.

  13. james williams Says:

    There is a reason Obama doen’t mention Liberty. Obama supports “social justice” which translates to “equality of outcome.” Equality is the opposite side of the coin from liberty. Obama has no interest in liberty.

  14. betsybounds Says:


    You think that’s a skeleton? :)

    I’m constantly amazed, on a certain level, that the Left relentlessly accuses Republicans in particular, and conservatives more generally, of hypocrisy. Republicans and conservatives don’t much answer these charges, they just go cower in the corner, hands over faces and tails between legs. But the truth is, EVERYONE’S a hypocrite. It would not be a difficult charge to defuse, if they would just muster the will to do so: “There is none righteous, no, not one.”

  15. betsybounds Says:

    It’s important to remember that we’re in a war, here. Lest I be accused of suggesting that Republicans betray our founding principles in the interest of fighting the Left/Democrat onslaught, and thus tarnish their own cause, let me say that when one is in a war, all rules must be suspended. The only thing that matters in war is victory. Sherman understood it, and said this: “War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.” And this: “War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want.”

  16. betsybounds Says:

    And again–paceClausewitz–politics is war by other means.

  17. holmes Says:

    I rarely donate to political campaigns. I’m budgeting $2,000 for this election cycle. This is a big one.

  18. mikemcdaniel Says:

    Hmm. So here we have a man who is ostensibly a lawyer, and a law professor, yet the reality is that he apparently never practiced law in any meaningful way and as the post notes, was anything but a professor of law, or any other kind of professor for that matter.

    The key to understanding Barack Obama is to keep in mind these few and simple incontrovertible truths:

    (1) He is, at heart and by profession, a con man.

    (2) He is, perhaps genetically, by upbringing, and likely, by conscious choice, a narcissist of the worst and most dangerously debilitating kind.

    (3) Everything that he does is done in the pursuit of power, which for him, equates to his own glorification, which is merely his due for being him.

    (4) His words mean exactly what he wants them to mean at any given time and may be completely contradictory from day to day. For Obama, words have denotations, fixed dictionary definitions, only to the extent that he can use them to fool the little people, but to him and his elite, socialistic comrades, words have only connotations, the connotations they prefer, and which are useful in the continuing glorification of Obama, at any given moment.

    (5) To get his way, to achieve ultimate power, there are no boundaries, no restrictions, for Obama truly believes his own press clippings (he’s a god). If Obama amasses sufficient power, he will switch from socialism to communism, with all of its oppressive and deadly tendencies, in the twinkling of an eye.

    November, 2010 will, to a significant degree determine to what degree the political components of liberty and democracy will stand against tyranny, and to which degree those referring to more hand on means will be required. Let us pray that the former will suffice. And if Obama and his slobbering acolytes are wise, they will quietly and quickly back away from lines that their cowardly and insubstantial nature will cause them to dearly regret crossing.

  19. Gray Says:

    I think that has a lot to do with it. Practically everybody has a skeleton or two in their closet

    My skeletons in the closet have skeletons in their closets.

  20. expat Says:


    Don’t know whether you saw any reports, but some artsy Danes even dug up a skeleton for the Little Mermaid.

  21. SteveH Says:

    Is this war or just a game? Well Democrats have had their foot on the throats of Americans since elected to majority in 2006. People are losing homes and businesses hand over fist. Young 20 somethings are in danger of not learning a trade or skill in their formative years. If this is a game, it is a deadly damn serious one.

    The GOP is in desperate need of people at the top who understand this situation. Americans winning a numbers game over democrats in November is a goal but not the main one. Their eyes should be on crushing this progressive movement until it can wield no more destruction on Americans.

    We better recognise the Rotary Club nice guy, always playing it safe and worried he might hurt people’s feelings, is ill equipped to deal with what we’re up against. We need warriors who will spend every waking moment pointing out the factual absurdities of the progressive movement while planning and scheming for its utter demise in American politics.

  22. Tatyana Says:

    TimP, I want to ask you this.

    I share your opinion of both parties – as it stays at the moment.
    What if, comes November, there are still no “young” Republican emerged, a “warrior”, as Steven H described him?

    I follow local Republican/Independent blogs, and I see the same process of electorate being increasingly disappointed with local Republican functionaries, and getting angrier by the day- but there are no solid enough names appear who can break the appeasing/opportunistic status quo.
    Worse, there Republican establishment does everything they can to discourage – in Brooklyn/NY case, stall – uncorrupted, fiscally responsible, aggressively pro-capitalist candidate to raise in the ranks. (this has been happening to Steve Levy’s candidature for Governor – Republican party endorsed Rick Lazio – who has no sound propositions for economy)

    Nature abhors a vacuum, but this is not the situation: in place of vacuum in Republican party we have the inept “compassionate conservatives” (at best) who are ill-equipped to fight tough. And they won’t leave quietly.

    So, my question -what if there in absence of systematic, coordinated effort for rebirth and renewal by Republican Party no new worthy candidate(s) emerge on national scale before November – is it advantageous to vote for Independents? Wouldn’t it have the dividing effect (Ross Perot and all that jazz)?

  23. Perfected democrat Says:

    “What if, comes November, there are still no “young” Republican emerged, a “warrior”, as Steven H described him?”

    Allen West! Too bad for us the Republican establishment is giving him so little attention, he’s probably the very best of the best….

  24. Tatyana Says:

    PD: I didn’t mean “warrior” literally.

  25. Perfected democrat Says:

    No matter, figuratively or really, West is truly outstanding, ideal, it’s hard to understand why he’s not getting a significantly higher profile in the Republican machine….

  26. IgotBupkis Says:

    > the Democrats standing alone in a different universe.

    I believe that land is called “The Land Without A Clue”.

    Someone once tried to inject a clue into it once. The clue was injected, after less than a picosecond, at speeds well in excess of ‘c’. The light show was rather spectacular as a result of the “superluminal boom”.

    The injector barely survived.


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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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