Victor Davis Hanson:
Lately a weakened President Obama has fashioned a new attitude about consensual government: “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” Obama boasted Tuesday as he convened his first cabinet meeting of the year. At least he did not say he intended to govern by “pen and sword.” If Obama used to sigh to supporters that he was not a dictator who could just implement progressive agendas by fiat, he now seems to have done away with the pretense of regret.
Obama has all but given up on the third branch of government since he lost control of it in 2010: “And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.”
There are lots of creepy things about such dictatorial statements of moving morally backward in order to go politically “forward.” Concerning issues dear to the president’s heart — climate change, more gun control, de facto amnesty, more massive borrowing supposedly to jump-start the anemic, jobless recovery — Obama not long ago had a Democratic supermajority in the Senate and a strong majority in the House. With such rare political clout, he supposedly was going to pass his new American agenda.
Instead, all he got from his Democratic colleagues was more borrowing and Obamacare. In the case of the latter, the bill passed only through the sort of pork-barrel kickbacks and exemptions to woo fence-sitting Democratic legislators that we hadn’t seen in the U.S. since the 1930s. And for what? Obamacare (be careful what you wish for) is proving to be the greatest boondoggle in American political history since Prohibition. If Obama sincerely wished to work in bipartisan fashion with Congress, he probably could easily get a majority vote to build the Keystone XL Pipeline, or a backup sanction plan against Iran in case his own initiatives fail.
Note as well that Obama says he will bypass Congress for “our kids.” Politicians usually cite the “kids” when promoting something that is either illegal or unethical. Meanwhile, apart from Obama’s support for late-term abortion, no president has waged a greater war against those under the age of 30 — passing on to them an additional $9 trillion in debt, socializing the economy and presiding over near-record youth and minority unemployment rates, taxing far poorer youth who will not use much health care to pay for more affluent baby boomers who will, or floating easy federal student loans to facilitate mostly liberal universities’ jacking up tuition at well above the rate of inflation (currently a $1 trillion bubble).
We are reentering Nixonian times, or perhaps worse, given that a free press at least went after Nixon’s misdeeds and misadventures.