Imperial Presidents

Every  US president would like more authority.   When John Kennedy was asked if there were any surprises when he became president, he said he was surprised at how little authority he really had.  We are no longer in the age of Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower, where there was a sense of the president had to, at times, act unilaterally, for the welfare of the country.

Fox News often brings commentators in, to make the accusation that Obama is operating outside the law.  One of the most amazing accusations was that it would be unlawful to strike against Syria, after they used chemical weapons, because only Congress can declare war.  These same Republicans seems to constantly criticize Obama for not bombing Syria, again without Congressional authority.

“Damn if you do, damn if you don’t”  as the old saying goes.  If Obama waits for Congress to act,  nothing will get done.  If he acts through executive orders, he is called an imperial president.   But most of the really famous presidents, where ones that acted outside of congress at times.  The famous Emancipation Proclamation of  President Lincoln, was an executive order.  Pretty incredible.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are controlled by Republicans and seem to be in lockstep against almost every initiative put forward by President.

Historians will quickly remind Americans that the conflicts between the legislature and executive branches have happened with every recent president.   But,  as former Senator Barney Frank pointed out,   a Democratic controlled Senate has a better relation to a Republican president than visa versa.  But, Frank is a Democrat, so beware of the bias.

Congress can be obstructive to the normal business of government in the name of congressional oversight.    Both parties have done this.   The Republicans, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio  refused to approve raising the debt ceiling, and had that measure  been defeated, the US would have been known as the only country which destroyed its credit rating, as an malicious act of partisan politics. This is a case where obstructive tactics went to destructive ones.

But, unfortunately,  there is great incentive for Democrats or Republicans to fight against each other.  No Republican is going to get on Fox News,  and accuse his fellow Republicans of being obstructionists.  Same with Democrats on MSNBC.

President Obama can’t get positions filled in the Department of State, according to Senator Kerry.   Republicans are demanding a nebulous “pound of flesh.”   Expect things to really boil when the next president nominates a Supreme Court justice.

When time is short as in the media, you load up both barrels of the gun and start blasting at the opposition.   But when the smoke clears,  it just seems everyone is a loser, as this is the surest way to make government less effective.

I just wish we had more moderates in both parties and less bias in the media.  I tire  of commentators on Fox, OANN and MSNBC.    Perhaps I yearn for yesterday.

Stay tuned,


Republican Trent Lott and Democrat Tom Daschle, have recently published a book, entitled Crisis Point, which highlights the way our government is becoming increasingly dysfunctional.   I have not had a chance to read it.

Crisis Point




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