Politics & Policy

No Lame-Duck President

(White House via Flickr)
Pundits who now depict Obama as weak may be greatly misjudging him.

Just what happened last week on Election Day? And what is going to happen in the years ahead?

The most important thing that happened last week was that the country dodged a bullet. Had the Democrats retained control of the Senate, President Obama could have spent his last two years in office loading the federal judiciary with judges who share his contempt for the Constitution of the United States.

Such judges — perhaps including Supreme Court justices — would have been confirmed by Senate Democrats, and could have spent the rest of their lifetime appointments ruling in favor of expansions of federal-government power that would have made the freedom of “we the people” only a distant memory and a painful mockery.

We dodged that bullet. But what about the rest of Barack Obama’s term?

Pundits who depict Obama as a weak, lame-duck president may be greatly misjudging him, as they have so often in the past. Despite the Republican sweep of elections across the country last week, President Obama has issued an ultimatum to Congress, to either pass the kind of immigration law he wants before the end of this year or he will issue executive orders changing the country’s immigration laws unilaterally.

Does that sound like a lame-duck president?

On the contrary, it sounds more like some banana republic’s dictator. Nor is Obama making an idle bluff. He has already changed other laws unilaterally, including the work requirement in welfare-reform laws passed during the Clinton administration.

The very idea of Congress rushing a bill into law in less than two months, on a subject as complex as immigration, and with such irreversible long-run consequences, is staggering. But there is already a precedent for such hasty action, without congressional hearings to bring out facts or air different views. That is how Obamacare was passed. And we see how that has turned out.

People who are increasingly questioning Barack Obama’s competence are continuing to ignore the alternative possibility that his fundamental values and imperatives are different from theirs. You cannot tell whether someone is failing or succeeding without knowing what they are trying to do.

When Obama made a brief public statement about Americans being beheaded by terrorists, and then went on out to play golf, that was seen as a sign of political ineptness, rather than a stark revelation of what kind of man he is, underneath the smooth image and lofty rhetoric.

The president’s refusal to protect the American people by quarantining people coming from Ebola-infected areas — as was done by Britain and a number of African nations — is by no means a sign of incompetence. It is a sacrifice of Americans’ interests for the sake of other people’s interests, as is an assisted invasion of illegal immigrants across our southern borders.

Such actions are perfectly consistent with Obama’s citizen-of-the-world vision that has led to such statements of his as this in 2008: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times . . . and then just expect that every other country’s going to say okay.”

In a similar vein, Obama said, “we consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.” In short, Americans are undeservedly prosperous and selfishly consuming a disproportionate share of “the world’s output” — at least in the vision of Barack Obama.

That Americans are producing a disproportionate share of what is called “the world’s output” and consuming what we produce — while paying for our imports — is not allowed to disturb Obama’s vision.

Resentment of the prosperous — whether at home or on the world stage — runs through virtually everything Barack Obama has said and done throughout his life. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to find the clues. You have to shut your eyes tightly to keep from seeing them everywhere, in every period of his life.

The big question is whether the other branches of government — Congress and the Supreme Court — can stop him from doing irreparable damage to America in his last two years. Seeing Obama as an incompetent and weak lame-duck president only makes that task harder.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is www.tsowell.com. © 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Thomas Sowell — Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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