June 23, 2012
June 23, 2012
Would a second term for President Barack Obama really represent a fourth term for President George W. Bush? In many respects, says a McClatchy Newspapers article by Steven Thomma and William Douglas, the answer is yes.
“For years, Obama talked about the limits on presidential power,” write Thomma and Douglas. “Now, driven either by principle or political expediency, he’s working to build and maintain a powerful presidency that pushes the edge of what it can do, while often telling Congress and the courts to mind their own business.”
In other words, he’s acting like Bush — and Bush’s Vice President, Dick Cheney, who the authors note has “pursued [such presidential power] ever since he served as White House chief of staff to Gerald Ford and watched Congress take power away from a presidency weakened by Vietnam and Watergate.”
For example, Obama was highly critical of the Bush administration’s assertion of executive privilege — an extra-constitutional “concept invented by President Eisenhower to stonewall the investigations of communism by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s,” according toThe New American’s Thomas R. Eddlem — to stymie a Senate investigation into Karl Rove’s involvement in the firing of U.S. Attorneys.
“There’s been a tendency on the part of this administration to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky that’s taking place,” Obama said in 2007. “There doesn’t seem to be any national security issues involved…. I think the American people deserve to know what was going on there.”
Fast-forward to 2012. Obama himself is now claiming executive privilege to shield Attorney General Eric Holder from a congressional inquiry into the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” scandal. Fast and Furious, an operation carried out by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, deliberately put more than 2,000 high-powered weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels and has contributed to much of the violence in Mexico and on the U.S.-Mexico border, where U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered, most likely by a bullet fired from one of those guns.
Fast and Furious is more than “a little shaky,” to borrow Obama’s turn of phrase from five years ago; and while it may have implications for Obama’s administration, it has few, if any, for national security. Like his predecessor, Obama seems to be invoking executive privilege simply to prevent embarrassment for his administration.