06 Feb 2014

Hypocrite in Chief: President Obama vs Senator and Candidate Obama

No matter how you try and spin it, there has been a gigantic shift in what candidate Obama claimed to be for when he ran for office, and what president Obama done since taking the reigns of power – on a great number of issues.

The latest move to use the powers of the Executive Branch to their fullest abilities, to get around Congressional logjams, is just one more example of this. It’s also another in a long line of expansions of executive powers (over the last couple decades – not just during Obama’s administration, or even Bush ’43’s).

I was one of the people who were duped into supporting Obama during his first campaign. There were a number of reasons I did that Obama has reversed himself on since, but among them was his stance on reduction of executive powers. I very much agreed with candidate Obama that the power of the executive branch of our government had grown too large, and wasn’t checked enough – mostly by Congress / the legislative branch.

But if it wasn’t clear enough before this, he showed what has turned out to be his true colors with crystal clarity in 2011, when he ignored the War Powers Act during the conflict in Libya.

The War Powers Act previously required a President to ask Congress for approval if they wish to keep a military conflict going past 60 days. Obama and company in the White House blatantly ignored this deadline, pretending as if he didn’t need to even ask.

Much like so many other cases throughout his presidency, for not following through with the President he promised to be when running, his excuses rang empty. This is especially unforgivable, since his experience as a constitutional law lecturer was a not-small selling point of his candidacy, and he highlighted that the presidency needed to go back to working within constitutional boundaries and balance of powers with Congress.

If this was a singular example, spread among an otherwise stellar track record, that would be one thing. It isn’t.

His flip-flop on the individual mandate part of the healthcare reform act, his flip-flop on whistle blowers, the huge gap between his campaign rhetoric and subsequent action on transparency issues and press relations, and his tossing out the window of his promise to chose officials based on merit and going with the tried and true direction of giving ambassadorial spots to wealthy donors come to mind off-hand.

You can certainly agree with the aims of the President, as I did on the action in Libya, and still not give the President a pass on abuse of his power, or hypocrisy vs what he campaigned on.

Another recent case involves appointments that need to go through the US Senate – Obama and company have made the preposterous claim that they are the ones that get to decide when the Senate is in session, so they can ram appointments through when few are around. The US Supreme Court it set to delve into this issue later this year, so hopefully that loophole will be closed quickly.

Obama and company have stayed within recent historical averages so far on the issuance of executive orders so far but the number isn’t so much the issue, as much as it is what he does with them. Some things are legitimately in the realm of what the presidency is supposed to do on it’s own, like looking into changing EPA emission rules, based on solid scientific footing. Others, like unilaterally waging war on a foreign nation without the approval of Congress… not so much.

Democrats would do well to remember that they were the ones complaining about these issues just a few years ago, and consider what it will be like when the abuses of power they’ve turned a blind eye to one of “their own” using since he took power in 2009 are turned over to an executive branch run by someone outside of their political tribe.

As with so many problems facing our country, much of this boils down to a miserable case of short term thinking. To these ideologically blind hacks, it’s all about today’s problem, this election cycle, this news cycle, getting a dig on their opponents, etc – losing track of the dangerous, steady expansion of presidential powers right before our eyes.

Author Details
After a few years of blogging on other sites, Solomon launched ‘Rise of the Center’ – the precursor to Uniters.org, leading to a number of interviews and freelance opportunities, most notably covering the 2012 election cycle on WNYC.org – the website for the largest NPR station in the country, in New York City – and reported from the floor of the 2012 Democratic & Republican National Conventions. After a hiatus from politics, the horrific circus of the 2016 election, and more generally increasing extremism and corruption, brought him back to this project.
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After a few years of blogging on other sites, Solomon launched ‘Rise of the Center’ – the precursor to Uniters.org, leading to a number of interviews and freelance opportunities, most notably covering the 2012 election cycle on WNYC.org – the website for the largest NPR station in the country, in New York City – and reported from the floor of the 2012 Democratic & Republican National Conventions. After a hiatus from politics, the horrific circus of the 2016 election, and more generally increasing extremism and corruption, brought him back to this project.
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