Toward the end of his presidency, John Adams and the infant United States were engaged in a quasi war with its former revolutionary ally, France. The French were attacking US shipping – sometimes at the mouth of the Chesapeake itself – and doing so with the impunity of a super power.
Adams’ party – and much of the country – was inflamed with the idea of declaring war and assembling an army, with Washington its figurehead and Hamilton its Napoleon in the field.
But Adams, for all of his bluster and rough edges, was a pragmatic patriot who knew that genuine war with France without a Navy was a fool’s errand and that a standing army with Hamilton at its head was a potential threat to the Republic. So, in an act of political courage, he sent a final peace envoy to avert outright war.
It was a selfless act, one that probably ended his career (Hamilton himself attacked Adams savagely in the press in 1800, all but ensuring his defeat to Jefferson). It was also the right thing to do — His final peace attempt was successful, allowing the young nation to avoid an unwinnable war.
The current occupant of the White House could learn a lot from the example of the first occupant – after all, last week’s actions demonstrated the personal and political selfishness of President Obama.
First is the issue of the War Powers Resolution as it related to the Libyan conflict – sorry, “kinetic military action.” The War Powers resolution was enacted by Democrats to reign in perceived military excesses by Republican presidents in 1973. It was an extraordinary expression of congressional power, as it had to be passed over the veto of then President Nixon. Nixon – and every President since – held that the resolution was unconstitutional. Yet, in spite of this arguable and valid question, the precedent has been for each President – including Nixon – to treat it as though it were operative while at the same time asserting that doing so was no endorsement of its constitutionality.
Now we have a Democratic president who wants to make war and does not want to abide by the War Powers Resolution. But rather than truly test the constitutionality of the measure, he is choosing to simply claim that THIS use of US military power is not applicable.
This is an extraordinarily selfish act, and one liberals especially should fear. POTUS is setting a precedent that subsequent presidents will be able to use – presidents that the left might not find so “enlightened.” Left as is, President Obama has set a standard where the president can essentially attack anywhere he wants without congressional approval for as long as he wants so long as he does not commit ground forces.
That is an extraordinarily selfish act. Why selfish? Because the president is avoiding congress because he fears a rebuke – from his own party, no less. The politically safe way to both claim to be decisive and to not face political defeat at the hands of Democrats – a defeat that would signal White House weakness – is to avoid congress all together. Precedent be damned, there is an election to win after all.
Which is also the obvious – and selfish – motivation behind the president’s inexcusable silence on the aggressive actions by the NLRB. In case you missed it, the NLRB yesterday issued rule changes that tilt the playing field dramatically toward the unions.
This is no surprise – the president intentionally stacked the NLRB with a member so unacceptable to congress he had to use a recess appointment to get him on. He did this at a time when the Democrats controlled both chambers of congress – meaning that the appointment of former SEIU lawyer Craig Becker was so controversial his own party rejected it out of hand.
If this had been a Bush appointee we would still be hearing about conflicts of interest and pay to play – after all, the SEIU contributed tens of millions of dollars to Obama’s campaign and the DNC. And already the unions are seeing a return on that investment – e.g. the NLRB suing Boeing for creating jobs in a right to work state.
And now they want to stack the deck in favor of unions in the organizing process. Employers, whose free speech rights during an election period are already severely limited, would now have even less time to say the few things they can say. And the NLRB – with Obama’s tacit blessing – is doing this in spite of congress rejecting bills with many of these same provisions. And did I mention that the Democrats controlled both chambers when that happened?
The result of these policies will be to make it more costly for employers to hire workers. If you make something more costly, employers will do less of it. So in essence – for political gain and union contributions – the president is supporting a policy that will kill job growth.
This would be unacceptable in a boom market with 3% unemployment. In a recession with 9.1% unemployment? It’s plain crazy. But it’s good politics if you want to ensure tens of thousands of rabid campaign volunteers and tens of millions of dollars in contributions and coordinated expenditures.
Like I said, these actions reveal an extraordinarily selfish president putting personal and political gain ahead of country. Bluntly, is that the type of leader we need right now?
Photo by Joe Crimmings
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