In announcing his presidential bid for 2008, Barack Obama stated on that historic occasion:
“That’s why I’m in this race.
Not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation.
I want to win that next battle – for justice and opportunity.
I want to win that next battle – for better schools, and better jobs, and health care for all.”
Wow that was an incredible, quite moving and ambitious pronouncement. What is even more incredible? A great majority of the American people listened to him, believed him and voted for him. Why would we do that? Obama’s description of his duties as president is way out of the constitutional boundaries set up by the political philosophers and founders of America.
Here’s how his vision stacks up against the constitution:
Not just to hold an office
Transform a nation
Win the battle for better schools
Win the battle for justice
Win the battle for opportunity
Win the battle for better jobs
Win the battle for health care for all
Commander in Chief of the Army
Commander in Chief of the Navy
Commander in Chief of the Militia
Principal officer of the executive departments
Grant reprieves and pardons
Boy, I can’t help but notice the disconnect between Obama the president and a constitutional presidency. Last time I checked the Army and Navy doesn’t fight for better schools and health care for all and we all know what has happened when we have fought wars solely for abstract justice or opportunity. The only battle Obama should be doing is in his role as Commander in Chief against a belligerent foreign nation not at home where crusaders like LBJ have wasted time, energy and money fighting the foe of poverty or injustice or better schools, etc. He should not have, along with President Bush, battled to save jobs by pumping our money into failing car companies only to have those companies go belly up in the end. So for all the money and time sacrificed during the past year, if one looks in the annals of American domestic battle we see the great bailout wars of 2008 in the same ash heap as the War on Poverty and Prohibition.
We need a president who sticks to taking “Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” and recommend to Congress some measures that he thinks necessary. What we need is a scaling back of the presidential powers and a restoring of the prestige and power of Congress (there is a reason why the Congress gets the most attention in the constitution). What we don’t need is a social warrior-in-Chief who can majestically pound his scepter on the sacred ground of Washington DC and cause health care to flow from the rocks for all to partake.
Obama has said that he wants to do more than just hold an office; but doing just that is what he has sworn to do: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
As Thomas Jefferson counseled, “In questions of power, then, let not more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
To Obama: stick to the constitutional limits you have sworn to uphold and start to ratchet down the American people’s expectations of the presidency. Despite the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, you will be doing all of us a favor in the end.