|The Hard Work of Holding Obama Accountable|
By Quin Hillyer
Thursday, September 08 2011
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to write about, because public affairs appear to be in a holding pattern. National politics seem stalemated, with a president rehashing the same stale lines and the same stale policies and congressional Republicans wisely refusing to bite on the stale bait he offers. The same left-wing president, of course, isn’t ever going to implement the sorts of fresh approaches offered by conservative reformers like Paul Ryan or Rick Santorum. Everybody is looking to January 20, 2013 to break the logjam, and even the most voluble of pamphleteers can sometimes despair of finding a new angle in the meantime.
President Obama’s administrative agencies and Justice Department, though, continue their reign of error, subverting representative democracy by fiat – and while conservative congressmen successfully push back on some of them (witness Obama’s retreat on job-killing smog regulations), the sheer volume of executive power grabs ensures that a number of outrages make it beyond congressional watchdogs and get implemented forthwith.
The increasingly infamous Gibson Guitar situation is just one example. The outlandish intrusiveness of the Consumer Products Safety Commission is another. The pro-union thuggishness of the National Labor Relations Board, especially in its treatment of a huge Boeing project scheduled for South Carolina, is a third.
In case after case after case, the Obama administration and its appointees run roughshod over common (and commonsense) understandings of the law and over ordinary procedures meant to ensure transparency and public comment. It contradicts some judges’ orders so blatantly that it gets held officially in contempt of court – and still continues its obstinacy-bordering-on-lawlessness even after that. It tries to steamroll over states as well, as with its attempt to keep Arizona from ensuring that its businesses don’t hire illegal aliens, but at least sometimes courts won’t let them.
In addition, of course, the Justice Department on multiple levels embraces what should only be described as pure lawlessness. This repeated abrogation of the rule of law is profoundly dangerous, carrying with it sometimes the whiff of the Star Chamber and at others the specter of civil unrest, tacitly encouraged for the political ends of those in power. Rogue prosecutors especially can be some of the most terrifying of all public officials.
All of which means that if there is a true political standoff, the actual power shifts to the executive branch anyway – especially if the executive, as it is in this case, readily embraces the chance to evade the ordinary constitutional restraints on its powers. Looked at that way, opponents of the current executive should see the time between now and the next inauguration not as a waiting game but as a fierce tug of war requiring extraordinary effort just to avoid being pulled, inch by inch, into the ditch. Conservatives can’t merely stall and hope for victory next October, because the field is tilted enough in Obama’s favor that we’ll all slide into the maw if we don’t keep fighting uphill. (Sorry for all the metaphors, but you get the idea.)
That’s why congressional oversight of this particular administration is so essential. It’s why conservative media need to be energetically investigative, and must hold the establishment media to account for its averted gazes and double standards that allow the Obamites to get away with abuses that no right-leaning administration would survive. It’s why whistleblowers must be encouraged and protected, even celebrated, and why conservatives should work overtime to stress that the ethics problem isn’t with “Washington” in general, but instead with the political left.
This is not to call for a game of “Gotcha” for purely political ends; it is to insist on accountability and constitutional limits regardless of politics. Constitutional accountability should never seem stale.
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