Obama White House has strategy that works
President Barack Obama once again stymied Republicans when he bypassed Congress to usher in stricter gun control.
Partisans on the right and left can debate whether the so-called executive actions are substantive or merely a partisan attempt to shape the narrative of the 2016 presidential campaign all they want, but the reality is Obama has been resilient in exercising the full weight — and then some — of his office to advance a left-wing ideological agenda.
And in doing so, Obama is unwittingly or not following Richard Nixon and moving the presidency closer to the absolutist model of the old Bourbon kings of France. This view of presidential power is best summarized by Nixon’s notorious line that if the president does it, it isn’t illegal.
Being the erstwhile constitutional scholar that he is, Obama knows that Republicans in the halls of Congress and at the presidential hustings in Iowa and New Hampshire are powerless to stop him.
Instead, this is merely the latest chapter in his left-wing ideological crusade to transform America by the end of his eight years in the White House.
Obama masterfully appeased his left-wing base while at the same time appealed to the sensible independents who value problem-solving politics over ideological warfare by bemoaning the Republican congressional majority and casting them as being bought and paid for by “the gun lobby.”
If that sounds familiar it should.
Obama used the same messaging — that he was solving critical problems Congress refused to address — in past executive action granting legal status (aka amnesty) to over 4 million illegal immigrants and failing to defend the then-law of the land on the definition of marriage.
And he keeps using the tactic because it works.
Obama has been successful in confounding Republicans and racking up one big left-wing ideological win after another.
The GOP-controlled Congress could defund the federal agencies charged with carrying out the latest executive action, but that couldn’t occur until 2017, when the federal government’s funding is up again. Of course, that’s after Obama’s successor will be elected to office.
Mitch McConnell, the U.S. Senate majority leader, conceded as much, saying in a statement, “The people’s elected representatives in Congress will oversee these latest actions to determine whether they follow federal law and the Constitution.”
Others on the right will probably pursue legal action in hopes the Supreme Court overturns the executive action, as it did unanimously in a challenge to the validity of presidential recess appointees to the National Labor Relations Board.
However, this isn’t a plausible strategy as there’s little chance of the High Court having any say before Obama leaves 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Even if a challenge were somehow expedited it’s extremely unlikely the justices would wade into the murky waters of executive actions and orders.
That’s because all but one president in the history of the United States has used the office’s mostly undefined prerogatives to their political advantage.
Dennis Lennox is a freelance columnist.