William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection points out that the most dangerous years of the Obama administration are upon us. He quotes a WaPo article by Scott Wilson that describes a supposedly “new” approach of the president’s.
Wilson’s article, which appears to be written from a purely descriptive point of view, is one of the most important things I’ve read in quite a while. It outlines as “new” what most of us on the right have long expected from Obama’s second term. For example, in November of 2010, less than two years into Obama’s first term—when some people were speculating that he might tack more to the middle for the last half of that first term—I wrote that even if he did, it would represent only a temporary feint to lull the American people into a false sense of relief at his moderation:
It need only be until the next election…And then, and then—voila! Four more years! Four years in which he won’t have to answer to the electorate at all. He will be unleashed to do whatever it is he really wants. And does anyone think that would look moderate at all?
Back then I already had a much greater fear of Obama’s second term than his first. Freed of the fear of consequences, he could exercise power in whatever way he might think possible to get around the limitations of our system of checks and balances. Neither I, nor anyone who has actually watched and studied Obama carefully, should believe he has anything but contempt for those boundaries where he is concerned. That is the mark of tyranny.
Wilson’s article is long, but well worth reading in its entirety. The following are some excerpts and my commentary on them [emphasis mine]:
Obama has said that his fraught relationship with Congress, especially after Republicans won the House in 2010, complicated his ability to promote his agenda. But for the first time, following what many allies view as a lost year, the White House is reorganizing itself to support a more executive-focused presidency and inviting the rest of the government to help.
The new approach comes after weeks of internal White House debate over a single question: What went wrong in 2013?… Senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer outlined the lessons learned in a three-page memo that Obama discussed with his Cabinet in recent weeks, according to several administration officials who have read the document.
So first we have the framing of this as a new approach, one to which Obama came reluctantly, forced by the stubborn resistance of Congress’s Republicans to his agenda. Of course, his approach is neither new, nor forced—although I suppose it’s “forced” inasmuch as it wouldn’t be necessary if Congress was still controlled by Democrats who could be trusted to merely rubber-stamp Obama’s desires. And it’s “new” in the sense that it will now be intensified. Obama is also attempting to capitalize on Americans’ dislike for and disapproval of Congress, which is far more unpopular even than he is.
Among [a Dan Pfeiffer memo's] conclusions is that Obama, a former state legislator and U.S. senator, too often governed more like a prime minister than a president. In a parliamentary system, a prime minister is elected by lawmakers and thus beholden to them in ways a president is not.
As a result, Washington veterans have been brought into the West Wing to emphasize an executive style of governing that aims to sidestep Congress more often…
“A State of the Union creates a contract with the public about what you say and what you will do,” said John D. Podesta, a senior adviser to Obama brought in this month to help design an effective governing strategy around the president’s goals.
“In that sense it is like a campaign, and it disciplines the priorities of the White House by creating an operation manual for the year ahead,” he said. “It is certainly in that spirit we are approaching this year’s State of the Union.”…
After Obama’s second inaugural address last January, Podesta, then head of the Center for American Progress, the administration’s off-campus think tank, said Obama “no longer feels to me like a prime minister.”
“He now understands the full range of the power of the presidency to get things done,” Podesta said at the time.
Now in the West Wing for a year-long stint as senior adviser, Podesta acknowledged that he was brought in partly to make that early prediction a reality…
Again, we have the carefully cultivated—and media-supported—myth of the heretofore reasonable and retiring Obama, hamstrung by his deference to Congress. Along with this is the notion that only recently has come the idea of politicizing Obama’s State of the Union speech, and that only recently Obama “gets” that he can accomplish a lot more by executive fiat than he ever thought possible before. He’s doing it for you, folks, to get around those people in Congress who thwart all the good he would otherwise do for you.
Who needs Congress? Not Obama. But that’s not new; he made it clear even in his first term that he would expand executive power though the liberal (pun intended) use of agencies and executive orders, if Congress wouldn’t play ball. After all, how many divisions does Congress have? Or SCOTUS? And he knows the MSM won’t object, and in his second term he no longer fears the people, if he ever did in the first place.