The Corner

‘Obama’s Views and the Administration Policy Are Two Separate Things’

Today delegates at the Democratic Convention their party platform to reference God and acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (or so the Chair ruled). The official explanation for the change, offered by DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is that “the platform is being amended to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the president and in the Democratic-party platform in 2008.” Yet the new DNC party position is not that of the Obama administration.  As The Cable reports:

An Obama campaign official told The Cable late Wednesday that the change in platform was made to reflect the personal views of Obama, who believes that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and who “personally intervened” to ask for the platform change.

“Mitt Romney spent last week claiming the Republican platform didn’t reflect his personal views. That’s why the platform was amended, to make clear what the president’s personal views are on Jerusalem,” the official said.

The official acknowledged that the administration’s policy remains not to weigh in on the final status of Jerusalem, which is an issue to be decided by the parties. But the official said that Obama’s views and the administration policy are two separate things.

“This makes crystal clear what the President’s personal view is. The policy has not changed.  The president has a personal view and the administration has a policy. They’re not incompatible but there are reasons that the administration’s policy is that the Jerusalem is a final status issue,” the official said. “We wanted to make the President’s views clear.”

This leads to an obvious question: If the president does not set administration policy, who does?

Jonathan H. Adler is the Johan Verhiej Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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