A Liberal Explains Why Obama Is an Imperial President

Seat of power. (AP)

President Obama is under fire from conservatives over his proposed executive action on immigration reform, which is scheduled to be unveiled Thursday evening. By acting unilaterally on such a controversial issue, they argue, Obama would be continuing a disturbing trend with respect to the abuse of executive power.

It wasn’t long ago that liberals were the ones complaining about executive overreach. Yet, after denouncing President George W. Bush for abusing our democracy for the better part of a decade, liberals have spent the Obama administration defending the president from similar charges.

Looking back on some of the left-wing criticisms of the Bush administration, it is fairly easy to use the exact same arguments to make the case that the Obama administration has been “the least democratic in the history of the modern presidency.”

That last line, for example, was taken a 2004 cover story for the New Republic by Jonathan Chait (who, in fairness, has been somewhat critical of Obama’s executive action proposal). Chait’s points about the Bush administration’s abuse of power can be easily applied to the current administration. The following has been appropriated, more or less verbatim, from Chait’s piece, titled “Power from the People.”

The Poison Tree

Arab protesters wave Islamic flags in front of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel / AP

Last month, addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Benjamin Netanyahu made a connection between the Islamic State and Hamas. These terrorist entities, Netanyahu said, have a lot in common. Separated by geography, they nonetheless share ideology and tactics and goals: Islamism, terrorism, the destruction of Israel, and the establishment of a global caliphate.

And yet, Netanyahu observed, the very nations now campaigning against the Islamic State treated Hamas like a legitimate combatant during last summer’s Israel-Gaza war. “They evidently don’t understand,” he said, “that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.”