With a Donald Trump presidency looming on the horizon, the Washington Post is suddenly concerned about the expanding power of the executive branch. After eight long years of silence on Barack Obama’s slow transition from president to dictator, the newspaper warned readers on Saturday that a weak Congress was to blame for an ever-more-powerful White House.
“Scholars of the presidency say that Barack Obama, George W. Bush and their predecessors have added so many powers to the White House toolbox that a President Trump could fulfill many of his promises legally – and virtually unchecked by a Congress that has proven incapable of mustering much pushback for decades,” writes Marc Fisher on July 30.
Fascinating! Wait, is this the same Congress that liberal outlets like the Washington Post has accused of “obstructing” President Obama at every turn?
It’s just too much. Obama’s defenders have been telling us for nearly a decade that all that Republican talk about the president’s imperial aspirations was just nonsense. That Obama was a strict constitutionalist who was fully within his rights to sign international treaty agreements, invalidate immigration law, and bomb American citizens without so much as a conversation with Congress. But now, with his presidency drawing to a close, they are suddenly warning us that the presidency has grown far too powerful? It would be laughable if it weren’t so depressing.
“Recent presidents have used their constitutional authority as commander in chief even to take actions that are specifically restricted by law,” Fisher writes. “In 2014, Obama announced a prisoner swap in which Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was brought home from Afghanistan in exchange for five Taliban commanders who had been held at the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Congress had passed a law requiring the president to notify it 30 days before the release of any Guantanamo detainee, but Obama insisted he had a higher duty to protect American lives and U.S. troops.”
And we all remember the many headlines and editorials WaPo and other liberal newspapers ran accusing President Obama of breaking the law when that transfer went down, don’t we? Oh, you don’t? Weird.
Whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton win in November, we should all get serious about bringing the power of the presidency back in line with the Constitution. But if we only speak out when it’s “the other side” violating the law, we’re never going to get anywhere.