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The Cordray Imperial Charter

Authority cannot be bound only by the laws it likes.

Yesterday President Obama decided to do away with that pesky little “Constitution” thing, and assign himself the power to make recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess. 

The Constitution could not be more clear about this: “The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.”  The meaning of this power is equally clear, providing a mechanism for the President to expediently fill important offices left vacant by sudden illness or resignation.  The President is most certainly not granted the power to unilaterally decide whether the Senate is in recess or not.

This was all done for the purpose of installing Richard Cordray as director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is not what the Founders had in mind when they contemplated the need to swiftly fill crucial offices so the government could discharge its limited Constitutional duties.  Later, Obama threw in three appointees to the National Labor Relations Board for good measure.

Announcing his power grab in Ohio, President Obama chirped, “Today I’m appointing Richard as America’s consumer watchdog.  That means he’ll be in charge of one thing: looking out for the best interests of American consumers.” 

Where’s that power enumerated in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, again?  The notion of the central government appointing a “watchdog” to “look out for the best interests” of a chosen constituency would have filled the authors of our Constitution with horror, if not violent rage.  Indeed, the strongest objections to this appointment voiced by Republicans center upon the office itself, more than the nominee.

“When Congress refuses to act and as a result hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them,” the President explained.  “I will not stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people they were elected to serve.”  And yet, somehow the Republic prospered quite nicely without a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until now.  In fact, it prospered quite a bit more than it has under Obama’s job-killing policies and budget-busting corruption. 

What chills every American should feel, hearing this extremist, arrogant President declare that he “will not stand by” while a minority takes lawful actions he disapproves of! 

The Constitution of the United States obliges you to stand by sometimes, Mr. Obama.  That’s the entire point of placing limits upon your imperial power.  Those limits do not exist to be discarded when a really brilliant President becomes especially angry at a minority he judges unfit to fulfill its representative duties.  Aren’t liberals usually fretting about the “tyranny of the majority?”  Frustrating this tyranny is the reason America was cast as a republic, not a democracy – government by representatives and iron law, rather than mob rule.  I was under the impression Obama went to school to study such things. 

The media has been content to ignore the Constitutional offense of the Cordray appointment.  If reporters were pressed about why, they might say it’s such a relatively small offense that it’s not worth getting upset about.  Besides, why should silly procedural speed bumps, such as the rules of Senate recess, be allowed to get in the way of almighty progress?

This mindset looms forever over liberty as a deadly menace.  It is the strategy always employed to bully free people into voting away the last scraps of their freedom.  We’ve got big problems to solve!  It’s silly to stand on procedure!  How foolish to make a great man like Barack Obama wear a straitjacket of arcane rules! 

Yesterday’s liberals fretted about the “unitary executive” when George Bush was in the White House, and the dangers of the post-9/11 world demanded a strong response.  Today’s liberals doodle in their notebooks and wistfully dream of how America could be more worthy of Obama’s enlightened leadership if we were only more like China, and the President had greater power to Get Stuff Done.

There are many reasons free people should reject the battle cry of “By any means necessary!”  Among them is the typically shoddy quality of rush jobs.  Confirmation of government employees, including hearty debate about questionable new tentacles of our bloated bureaucracy, serves to improve the quality of the employee, increase the American people’s awareness of him… and perhaps avoid costly mistakes, which our beyond-bankrupt government cannot afford to make.

“To some degree, he’s damaged goods,” a Republican senator said of Cordray’s imperial charter (the term “recess appointment” being logically invalid in this case.)  “I think that means he’ll have less credibility and, ironically, be less equipped to reform the economy in the way that it needs to be reformed.”  Oh, wait, I’m sorry.  That wasn’t a Republican senator talking about Richard Cordray.  That was Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, talking about Ambassador John Bolton and his mission to reform the United Nations, back when recess appointments were actually made during Senate recess, and Democrats still thought they were unwise abuses of executive power.

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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