(Illustration by Greg Groesch, The Washington Times)
Anyone watching the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's hearings last week might be forgiven if, blinking their eyes, they imagined the participants in 17th century garb, for the scene was right out of British battles between Charles I and Parliament.
Appearing for the Crown, imperious, and contemptuous of the Lower House, was the king's minister, Eric H. Holder. Questioning him was the parliament-man, Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, who Mr. Holder curtly warned: "Don't go there, buddy."
That brief exchange illustrated, for all to see, the transformation of American politics and the rise of "crown government." Recent American presidents, and Barack Obama in particular, have escaped many of the constraints of the separation of powers.
Mr. Obama makes and unmakes laws without the consent of Congress, spends trillions of government dollars, and makes the greatest of decisions, whether to commit his country to war by himself often without even bothering to consult Congress. His ability to reward friends and punish enemies exceeds anything seen in the past. He is rex quondam, rex futurus — the once and future king.
This is not what the Framers envisioned when they wrote and gave us our Constitution in 1787. They had seen one king in George III and didn't want another.
They didn't foresee how things would turn out, however. They didn't predict the rise of democracy, political parties, the regulatory state, national presidential candidates and a modern media that makes rock stars out of presidents. If that's not what the Framers expected, that's only to say that they weren't omniscient.
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- Judy Chaffee
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