Sunday, November 23, 2014
What’s the difference between Obama and a Latin American Caudillo?
Ruling by presidential decree is a characteristic of the typical Latin American “Republic.”
Does anyone care what the Brazilian or Venezuelan congresses do? What the Mexican Senate and Chamber or Deputies decide? Populated by powerless eunuchs, many of el Presidente’s own party, they don’t matter except as a façade.
So what’s the difference between the way Americans are ruled today and the way the heirs of Peron and Chavez rule their country? Is there that much difference between Obama and the rule of the president of Mexico whose term is often labeled the "six-year monarchy" because of the seemingly unchecked power that historically has resided in the office?
Less and less.
And while the term “imperial presidency” has been bandied about for many years in this country, it has never been more blatantly practiced than by the current occupant of the White House. No other American president has ever had the brass to tell the American people that he will rule them with a phone and a pen. And the Democrats in congress and the press cheered him on.
Debate in the Federalist Society, an organization that tries to advance the notion that the constitution should be the basic law of the land, pointed out that over many years Congress has ceded its power to the President.
“If Congress wants to restrain the discretion of the president, they are supposed to do what the separation of powers encourages them to do: Write the statute tightly so that it will be actually administered the way you want it administered," Baker said. "The reality is many members of Congress don’t care how it is administered until somebody squawks about it. They don’t read the statutes, so how do they know how it is going to be administered.”
Members of the Republican party, at least those who are actually opposed the Imperial Presidency (instead of paying lip service to it) are hoping the courts will bail them out. That's what they thought would happen the last time the Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of ObamaCare. How did that work out?
“I do not think the executive is subordinate to the judiciary, and if the executive is not subordinate to the judiciary and has the power to independently interpret the Constitution, it can’t be exercised only at the veto point when a prior president may have signed the bill,” ... “The president who inherits the bill has to have the opportunity to interpret it himself and not be bound by the prior administration. The idea that the prior administration can tie the hands of a subsequent administration doesn’t make sense to me.”
So in 2008 with Democrats in control of both houses of congress and with the election of Obama, the nation was set on a new course. Barack and Michelle promised to “fundamentally transform” America, and with the assistance of the Democrats in the senate and house, they are well on their way. But because of the resistance by a majority of the American people and a minority of conservatives in congress, they have done so less by legislation and more by executive fiat.
Is there a constitutional remedy? Yes, theoretically. Impeachment is a remedy for a president who commits "high crimes and misdemeanors." Those would include taking actions which he lacks the authority to take. Charles Krauthammer calls amnesty via an executive order an impeachable offense. But the Republicans are afraid of trying to remove Obama from office, even if they had the votes to convict, which they do not.
Obama has been applauded by the press because they support the direction he is taking the country. They approve of socialized medicine and government control in general … in fact there is very little about socialism they don’t support. But with the support of the goals, they have turned a blind eye to the means. They like the Caudillo when he’s ruling in their favor, believing – perhaps incorrectly – that the next Caudillo will continue the trend. That’s to be seen, but in the meantime the constitution is kicked to the curb and the rule of law is replaced by the rule of the strongman.
In the Banana Republics, the rulers often change when the military stages a coup. The problem with the Caudillo system is that it invites extremism. Riots in the streets in reaction strong-man rule often leads to ambitious military officers restoring calm and occupying the centers of power. Often the military has the greatest legitimacy among the competing power centers. The current ruler of Egypt is the most recent example.
In the US, the Gallup Poll shows that the military is the institution in which Americans have the greatest confidence with 74% approving "a great deal or quite a lot." The presidency comes in 7th at 29% and congress is dead last, even lower than TV news.
Don't say we were not warned.
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