Obama versus U.S. Constitution: Which is Dispensable?

 Canadian Free Press

Kathy Barnette  Monday,January 16,2012


A story that is often retold is one of Dr. Benjamin Franklin leaving the Constitution Convention in 1787.  Upon Dr. Franklin’s exit a lady asked him “Well Doctor, what have we got a republic or a monarchy – “A republic,” replied Dr. Franklin, “if you can keep it.”(i)

A clear line is being drawn in the sand.  In this generation, more so than any other, it appears we are coming dangerously close to losing our great republic.  President Barack Obama’s most recent power-grab catapults us at warp-speed into Dr. Franklin’s worse fear.  The U.S. Supreme Court will eventually decide if President Obama’s actions were illegal or not.  However, the legality of President Obama’s recent actions is not the American people’s only problem.  Precedents are being set every day and are used in future cases to determine the legitimacy and borders of the U.S. Constitution – should the current borders be expanded to accommodate personal whims, special situations, and the personal opinions of a minority.  Dr. Thomas Sowell, a renowned scholar and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, terms this minority “the anointed”. 

A growing number of Americans seem to be under the illusion that our current form of government (a republic) cannot be lost. Well, it can be lost and in many respects it has.  When the Senate can pass a bill (S 1867) which would subject American citizens to be detained by the military without due process, without a trial before our peers, for as long as the government deems necessary, and for any reason the government deems appropriate, WE the People have lost some of our great republic. (ii)  When a member of Congress consents to not having read the law before voting to pass the law and then boldly says “Congress must (first) pass the bill (ObamaCare) so you can find out what’s in it…”(iii), WE the People have lost some of our great republic.  When our sitting President can send a memo to Congress stating that he “believes” the Office of the President can determine when Congress is in recess or not, when the Constitution renders no such power to a President, WE the people have clearly lost some of our great republic.(iv)

Do we now have a self-proclaimed king on our hands?  Is the Constitution really necessary anymore?  In all of our wisdom, have we now evolved beyond the need of a Constitution?  Have we advanced beyond the need of checks and balances that were set in place by our Founding Fathers to curb the egotistical pride of any one man or woman?  The answer, respectively, is “maybe”, “absolutely”, “an indisputable no”, and “a resounding thumbs down!”  If we are honest and willing to think beyond stage 1, even the staunchest Obama fan would not concede these points. To be fair the U.S

 Constitution does allow a President to make occasional and temporary appointments to vacancies WITHOUT getting Congressional approval when Congress is OUT ON RECESS.  In a highly disputed move and a move that may be deemed unconstitutional, President Obama appointed the highly challenged Richard Cordray as director of a new consumer protection agency.  President Obama also took this opportunity to fill three of the five labor board vacancies – a move that creates the appearance, at best, of stacking the odds in one’s favor in getting future policies passed with greater ease. 
In answering the charge of legality, President Obama’s legal team concluded last week that Congress was “effectively”(v) in recess.  As such, the President was within the law to make these appointments. 

Leave it to politicians to redefine the absolute meaning of a word.  Either Congress was in session or they were not, right?  Most people are often required to answer either “yes” or “no” to questions.  During such times, it is understood that “yes” means yes; while “no” means no, and the confusion of the two is a lie.  For example, if someone was questioned and answered in the affirmative, “Yes, I broke into that store”, a jury of their peers would not allow such a person to explain away their trespass by noting that the store door was left unlocked.  Therefore, they did not “effectively” break-in; they just took advantage of an open door.  Likewise, Congress was either in session or it was out on recess; any other answer is a bold attempt to take advantage of an open opportunity to beguile.  The Constitution and precedent says Congress was in session.  For that reason, the President should have received Congressional approval before making an appointment. 
No man and no woman is greater than the U.S. Constitution!  If we listen to the talking-media heads, we would come to the conclusion that it’s okay for this President to usurp the U.S. Constitution, after all, he’s “getting things done in face of a do-nothing Congress.”  Yet, if we would think beyond stage 1, we can clearly see the error in this line of reasoning and that it makes no sense at all.  It is never okay to usurp the Constitution of this land.  No one person’s opinion or unction should ever justify WE the People allowing them to pick-and-choose which law they will abide by and which ones they will not.  Such an act makes a dangerous slippery slope for a republic.  It is the U.S. Constitution that makes our nation superior to any other.  It is the U.S. Constitution that causes people from around the world to sell all that they have to make it to the “Land of Opportunity.”  It is not a person, but the U.S. Constitution that causes parents to leave their children, children to leave their parents, and people to risk their lives to make it to America. 

Thinking beyond stage 1:

This recent action is just one of many deliberate power grabs by this administration.  More disconcerting than the act, however, is the arrogance in which it was done. 
In his announcement of Mr. Cordray’s appointment, Obama offered these self-justifying statements: 

THE PRESIDENT:  “For almost half a year (almost 6 months), Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard’s confirmation….The only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard is because they don’t agree with the law that set up a consumer watchdog in the first place…”

“…we were pretty patient.  I mean, we kept on saying…let’s go ahead and confirm him.  Why isn’t he being called up?  Let’s go.  Every day that we waited was another day when millions of Americans were left unprotected….And that’s inexcusable.  It’s wrong.  And I refuse to take no for an answer.”

“…But when Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as President to do what I can without them…”(vi)

Now let us examine the President’s comments.  His chief complaint is that after almost 6 long months, Congress could not decide on his nomination.  Is it necessary for us to review history and discuss the Congressional scrutiny and public opinions surrounding Harriet Miers, Justice Samuel Altio, Justice Clarence Thomas, and others?  Stalemates happen in politics.  Stalemates are one of the ingenious protective powers our Founding Fathers incorporated into the U.S. Constitution – called checks and balances.

What can be said about differing opinions?  Dr. Thomas Sowell, says it so well in his book – The Vision of the Anointed, “An appreciation of the many complexities involved in resolving controversial issues might suggest that the existence of alternative conclusions is something quite reasonable to expect among intelligent and informed individuals.”  He goes on to say, “From this perspective, complexities suggest intellectual or ideological tolerance.”

As we have come to learn, those chanting tolerance are not tolerant of any opposing views.  Even if those opposing views, as Dr. Sowell says so perfectly, suggests we are intelligent and informed people.  So, we submit to our President, that having a difference of opinion is not a call to irrational behavior – such as, picking up your toys and leaving the sandbox.  Instead, it is a sign of intelligent life. 

Let us also not forget, that our current U.S. National Debt is now approximately $15.2 trillion dollars.  This is up almost $1 TRILLION dollars since we raised the debt ceiling almost 6 months ago on August 2, 2011.  Within the same 6-months timeframe President Obama’s been waiting for Congressional approval of Richard Cordray, our government has spent $1 TRILLION.  Please do not lose sight of this very important point that in 6 months we spent $1 TRILLION dollars. 

According to the President, he promises “to do everything (he) can every day, every minute, every second, to make sure this is a country where hard work and responsibility mean something and everybody can get ahead.”  A huge inroad to achieving this is reducing our national debt, not by expanding government oversight.  We must begin to reconcile this in our mind:  An expanding government always equals an expansion in social policies, followed by a reduction in personal liberties, an expansion of our national debt and a hike in individual tax rates to pay for the expansive government.(vii)  We lose.

THE PRESIDENT:  “That makes no sense.  Does anybody think that the reason that we got in such a financial mess, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in a generation – that the reason was because of too much oversight of the financial industry?”

Yes, we do think this and for good empirical reasons.  Among the complex reasons one could give to point to the cause of our economic crisis, at the heart of those reasons would be two government lead policies.  One, our out of control national spending, which is always sponsored, passed, and administered by Uncle Sam.  Two, President Clinton’s Community Redevelopment Act, also known as the Community Reinvestment Act, designed to strongly encourage financial institutions to meet the needs of all borrowers in all segments of the market.  And in so doing, this Act ushered in the risky subprime loans that President Obama and Democrats now decry as not only greedy but “predatory”.  This is the reason they give to mandate further government intervention with the appointment of Mr. Cordray. 

Further consider that it was this very sort of government oversight that allowed “greedy” financial institutions to lower their asset-liability reserves.  Effectively guillotining any chance that financial institutions may have had in self-correcting and covering their liabilities if the economy and housing market fell.  This policy proved disastrous as we sat back and watched our government introduce the largest bail-out in history.  Lastly, keep in mind, that it was government oversight that placed U.S. Congressman Barney Franks on the advisory board of the government sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that enabled the reckless behavior of financial institutions.  With government-lead oversight like this, who needs it?  Definitely not the American people.

It is clear, that many will read this article through the lens of a political affiliation, or from the side of race and personal affinity.  Similar to having an opinion, everyone has a perspective or way of seeing things.  It’s inevitable.  We all have biases.  Yet, it is possible to lay our inherent perspectives, biases, preconceived notions along side what we know to be true and the most responsible choice for generations to come.  Only in doing such, do we stand a chance of weaving through the web of political rhetoric to saving our beloved republic.  Anything less and we may very well be the generation from which precedents are cited from to move the balance of power from the people and to the hands of an elite “anointed” few.

i Anonymous, from Farrand’s Records of the Federal Convention of 1787
ii Forbes
iii House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments to the 2010 Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties.
iv New York Times
v “Bucking Senate, Obama Appoints Consumer Chief”, New York Times, 
vi “ Obama Announces Cordray Recess Appointment”,
vii “Obama to ask for debt limit hike:  Treasury official”,