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Friday, July 06, 2012

An Imperial Presidency

Charles Krauthammer reminds us of the many instances in which President Obama has willfully expanded his claims of presidential power, thereby diminishing the Constitutional checks and balances intended to protect individual political liberties.

Liberal-progressive icon Professor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., wrote The Imperial Presidency in 1973 to express his fear that the powers of the President were steadily being expanded at the expense of Congress’s Constitutional powers.  Barack Obama’s presidency adds a large new chapter to Mr. Schlesinger’s opus.

The word imperial in this context harks back to the demise of republican government in the Roman Empire.  After Octavius Caesar defeated Mark Anthony and assumed the role of emperor as Caesar Agustus, he carefully maintained the outward forms of government that had prevailed under the republic, but in effect his dictates were the law of the land.  Political power hitherto held in the Roman Senate was gone.

It’s noteworthy that President Franklin Roosevelt embarked upon the same path in his first administration.  FDR proclaimed in his 1933 first inaugural address:

“Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangements without loss of essential form