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A regal action for a Republican, a welcome credo for a Democrat

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:09 pm - January 5, 2012.
Filed under: Bush-hatred,Media Bias

In one of Best of the Web’s frequent feature, “Two Papers in One,” James Taranto delights in the inconsistent editorial stances in the nation’s one time paper of record  Today, he notes how the Times editors shifted their stands on recess appointments. Back in 2006, when the president made recess appointments, they manifested a “regal attitude toward a Congress in which his party holds solid majorities in both houses

But, today, they praise the president for taking action when Congress refuses to act and dub Republicans “obstructionists” for exercising their constitutional responsibilities.  They quote his statement in making the recess appointment as a “welcome new credo”.  (Should check and see if they called Democratic Senators obstructionist for holding up the president’s appointments in the first eight years of this century.)

They sure didn’t use that term (“obstructionist”) when they lambasted the immediate past president for making recess appointments when the Senate really was in recess.

To the Times editors, a Republican president making a recess appointment when the Senate really was in recess is taking a “regal action”, but when a Democrat offers just such an appointment when the Senate isn’t in recess, it becomes, in the words of the Times editors, a “welcome new credo”.

Has messiness of GOP presidential nomination process helped Obama?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:43 pm - January 5, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,Decent Democrats

Two of my favorite pundits, Glenn Reynolds and Michael Barone, frequently excerpt and link Walter Russell Mead’s commentary at the American Interest.  Mead, a Democrat who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but who supported the Iraq War in 2003, offers trenchant analysis of politics and social trends and frequent criticism of his party and its ideological associates (i.e., liberals).

Given his insight, Mead ranks (along with such conservative “wise men” as Barone, Victor Davis Hanson and Charles Krauthammer) as one of the few pundits regularly offering sage commentary on the news of day, often spotting trends before others notice them.  In his post which Glenn linked today, Mead contends that the “driving force in the country remains a deep unhappiness with the status quo and with both parties, but ten months out from the election, this mood looks as if it will hurt Democrats more than Republicans.

The entire piece is well worth your time (as are most of Mead’s posts), but one passage struck out to me, perhaps because his views reflect my own on Obama’s recent uptick in the opinion polls:

The serial rise and fall of ultimately unsatisfactory GOP candidates makes the incumbent look better by contrast even as the candidates field-tested attack ad themes the Democrats can turn to next fall.  President Obama’s numbers are up a bit even as short-lived GOP favorites crash and burn.  Throw in the House payroll tax kerfluffle, and the GOP sometimes looks as if it is trying to drive voters away.

One wonders how the polls will shift when the focus turns back to the incumbent. It sometimes seems Obama’s poll numbers tend to drift upward when he does not dominate the news cycle.

How will he fare when the various Republican candidates stop savaging each other and concentrate their fire on his policy failures and the anemic state of the economic recovery?

UPDATE:  Seems Hanson shares my view that the president’s poll numbers drift upwards when he is not in front of the cameras, hectoring us:

President Obama went into a deep slumber in December. When he woke up this January, he found himself back even in the polls, with neither a press conference nor another overhyped presidential televised address to be heard. Sleep, quiet, and solitude — all that appears wiser than campaigning, visibility, and speaking, both for Obama and Americans. In short, the president has really hit on something: an Obama going into a Rip Van Winkle somnolent state might just mean waking up again as president.

. . . .

The more he kept out of the news and kept quiet, the more his negative and positive ratings went back in sync, until they are today about even, a radical shift in just about a month — and as a result of doing absolutely nothing. Do Americans sort of like Barack Obama the more that they do not see or hear much of him — at least while they hear too much of the Republicans ripping each other apart?

Via Instapundit.  Read the whole thing.

Liberal pundit doubts constitutionality of Obama’s recent recess appointments

Even Timothy Noah at the left-of-center New Republic, who favors “a bolder stance by our president to counter Republican obstruction. . .  just” doesn’t “see how these appointments [to National Labor Relations Board] can be legal”.  He says this in an update to his piece contending that “Cordray’s Recess Appointment Sure Doesn’t Look Constitutional To” Him:

As someone who strongly supported a recess appointment for Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I’m confused as to why President Obama chose to act today. Had he appointed Cordray yesterday, during a brief period when the Senate was technically in recess, the action would have been supported by precedent. Apparently, though, that appointment would have lasted only through 2012. By appointing Cordray today, Obama can keep him at CFPB through 2013.

The trouble is that the Senate isn’t in recess. For complicated reasons the Republicans have the ability to prevent the Senate from going into recess, and they have done so in order to maximize the difficulty of Obama making recess appointments. The White House maintains that keeping the Senate in pro forma session is a stupid gimmick, which is certainly true. It further maintains that because it is a stupid gimmick, that gives the president the right to act as though the Senate were in recess. That’s the part I have trouble following.

Via RealClearPolitics.  On this issue, Noah and Ace are on the same page, with the latter mocking the president’s contention that “The Senate has effectively been in recess for weeks, and is expected to remain in recess for weeks.”  (Emphasis added.)  Quoting the relevant constitutional provision (Article II, Section II), Ace quips, “Funny, I don’t see anything about ‘effectively’ being in recess.

Noah also takes on other left-of-center bloggers as well as political scientists defending the recess appointments contending that the court cases and CRS reports they cite don’t justify the conclusions they’ve reached. Read the whole thing.

NYT: Obama uses “recess” appointments to demonize Republicans

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:10 am - January 5, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,Obama Dividing Us

Even New York Times writers Helen Cooper and Jennifer Steinhauer dub political the president’s decision yesterday to make three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and one to a new “consumer” agency:

President Obama touched off a fierce election-year confrontation with Congressional Republicans on Wednesday, defying their deep opposition to appoint Richard Cordray as director of a new consumer protection agency and fill three labor board vacancies.

The decision to install the four nominees without Senate approval under the constitutional provision for making appointments when lawmakers are in recess was a provocative opening salvo in Mr. Obama’s re-election strategy of demonizing Congress. It threatened to ignite a legal challenge and left Republicans fuming that the president was abusing the recess privilege.

Emphasis added.  So, the president is fitting his official powers into his electoral strategy.

Now three out of five members of the powerful NLRB take office before the Senate, as the Framers intended, had a chance to scrutinize their rhetoric.  Seems someone is trying to rally an important Democratic constituency (i.e., labor unions).  Not just that, the Times writers add, “The recess appointments seemed deliberately timed, coming a day after the Iowa caucus vote and seemed intended to rile the Republicans.”

For, this guy it’s all about riling the Republicans.

Times staff may find the Senate in recess, but others disagree.  John Hinderaker doesn’t mince words: “Obama took his war against Congress to a new level, announcing four “recess appointments” when the Senate was not, in fact, in recess.”  The lawyer show why the Senate was not in recess and reminds us that as recently as 2010, even administration lawyers shared that view.   (Read the whole thing.)

Glenn Reynolds has a nice mini-roundup here.

Seems the guy who was supposed to transcend partisan politics just loves playing partisan politics.

UPDATE:  “Why,” Allahpundit asks, “would O risk a constitutional confrontation with Congress over something as minor as the NLRB or his new consumer board? Why, for the same reason he does everything: Because it might help him get re-elected.

FROM THE COMMENTS:  V the K quips, “Well, this is not what democracy looks like at all. I am sure OWS and Rachel Maddow will be all over this anti-democracy power grab.”  I’m sure she savaged the appointments on her show last night.

RELATED:  Obama Chooses Politics Over Principle in Naming Cordray (H/t:  RealClearPolitics)