There’s an interesting convergence in the news this morning, with Kimberley Strassel in the Wall Street Journal and an article in the New York Times tackling President Obama’s trampling of the separation of powers. Strassel is dubbing Obama’s an “imperial presidency,” and while the Times offers a straight news piece about No Child Left Behind waivers, it too features a strong whiff of presidential imperialism:
Congress has tried and failed repeatedly to reauthorize the education law over the past five years because Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on an appropriate role for the federal government in education. And so, in the heat of an election year, the Obama administration has maneuvered around Congress, using the waivers to advance its own education agenda.
It’s easy and fun, of course, to cry imperialism when it’s the other guy’s party in power, and as Strassel points out many on the left employed such condemnation — not without cause — against George W. Bush. But that’s precisely the problem: Liberals and conservatives both shunt aside the Constitution when it serves their purposes, but act shocked — shocked! — when the feds or the president employ unconstitutional power to do things they don’t like.
Well guess what, fickle friends of the Constitution: You all righteously shut down the containment unit. You’re all at fault for the demons running rampant.
There’s no better example of this than education, an area over which no federal authority exists yet politicians of both parties have “helped the children” whenever they’ve felt they could get what they wanted. A heavily Democratic Congress and White House gave us the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act — liberals love spending money on schools — and conservatives decried the wasting of taxpayer dough. With NCLB, a largely Republican Congress and White House escalated federal control — conservatives love being seen as tough guys who impose “accountability” — and many on the left became apoplectic. Now President Obama is handing out NCLB waivers contingent on states adopting his favored reforms, and many on the right are rhetorical constitutionalists again.
Here’s the lesson: The next time the guy you despise does something you don’t like, remember when you’ve looked the other way as the Constitution was shoved in a drawer, or torn up, in pursuit of what you wanted. Remember, and heap blame on yourself, because it is your fault.
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