Obama Report Card: Docked From Recess

Memo to those who enrolled Barack Obama into his present job: Barry is an above average president with a delightful sense of humor and vast potential. If he would apply himself more to his job and less to his narrow political interests we are sure we would see great things from him. He is truly a charming president to hang out with.


Congress of the United States

The Supreme Court

The American people


The school year is over and the Obama report card is in. Contrary to the wisdom of modern child psychologists, the president is not getting a social promotion. His marks would redden the cheeks of any school kid.

“Unconstitutional!” the high court rebuked the former constitutional law professor.

“Worst president in modern history!” voters pronounced judgment on the man who set out to restore trust in the presidency.

As for Congress, House Speaker John Boehner announced plans this week to sue Obama for bypassing Congress with his executive actions. More on that shortly, but that is as close as you get to a “NI — needs improvement.”

Obama took a gamble on his presidency and lost. Big time. Colossally. Hobby Lobby colossal. He took one of the presidency’s greatest capabilities and destroyed it for future presidents. And all to help his friends in the Big Union industry.

Seeking to bypass a Congress who refused to vote on his radical appointments to a pro-union labor board, the president exercised his constitutional prerogative and put them in via recess appointment (why do school metaphors keep popping up?).

This system, going back to President James Monroe, a participant at the convention of 1787 which drafted the Constitution, have been made by nearly every single commander in chief to bypass an intransigent Congress, fill a position that cannot wait for a hearing, or just allow a president a quiet chuckle at scoring a political victory. And the best part is that they are constitutional.

Except for when Congress is not in recess — oh, about half the year. Like the kid who waits for the teacher’s coffee break to make trouble, the president waited for Congress to turn its back for a moment and then rammed his appointments through.

No do-nothing Congress here; they sued. And a year and a half ago, a judge declared it unconstitutional.

At the time, I urged Obama on these pages to defend the recess appointment tactic at the high court since it conflicts with centuries-old precedent.

“More than any other legal setback dealt Obama, he has a responsibility of the generations to fight this,” I wrote on Jan. 30, 2013. “The weight of all presidents … demands that he establish as law the right for presidents to make recess appointments.”

Someone shoulda told me he couldn’t be trusted in the kitchen. Obama took the challenge and blew it. In one of few rulings historically on the topic, last week the Supreme Court — unanimously, meaning that even the two justices Obama put there concurred — called it unconstitutional.

Sorry, Mrs. Clinton. Oops.

This week brought more bad news for Obama. If recess appointments were his English report card, consider Hobby Lobby his religious one.

The court ruled that the Obamacare standard for health insurance infringes on religious rights since it mandates companies headed by religious people to pay for immoral procedures.

So there we have it. Our constitutional law professorial president has used his legal background to agonizingly deliberate the pros and the cons, the yeas and
the nays, of all sides of the wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq as thousands, and then tens of thousands, of people were killed. It takes him hours just to say gezundheit.

We get the law professor when we don’t need it but can’t get him — or get the wrong him — when we need him.

So what has been Obama’s response? More unilateral action.

“Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff,” Obama said. “So sue me.”

Wrong. I mean right about the “sue me” part but wrong about the fact that Obama was elected to get things done. He wasn’t. He was elected to work within his constitutional boundaries. If not, we get executive actions such as Andrew Jackson’s forcing out thousands of Cherokee Indians despite Congressional and Supreme Court opposition or FDR’s expulsion of Japanese descendants during WWII.

In particular, Obama’s threat to solve the immigration mess by executive action shows how he is intractable, not Congress.

Republicans in Congress have long wanted to pass a law reforming immigration — but on condition that Obama first, or at least concurrently, reform border control. Make sure no more illegals cross our borders and we’ll legalize those here already, they said.

Problem is, nobody trusts the president to close the border. Blame it on his broken Obamacare promises, the IRS targeting conservative groups or on his running the most partisan administration in recent history. Blame it even on Republicans — but voters said by a 45 to 38 percent margin in a poll Wednesday that they would today vote for Mitt Romney over Obama, whom they consider the worst president in 50 years.

Oh, the delicious irony.