Barack Obama, desperate to seem relevant after the nation and his own party rejected him on Nov. 4, made it official last night. The self-proclaimed Constitutional scholar announced he will undo more than two centuries of law today and invite 5 million illegal aliens to remain in this country without fear of deportation.
A question on everyone’s mind this morning is what the Republicans, who now control both houses of Congress, will do. It’s a good question, to sure, and Obama himself is probably on tenterhooks to know whether the GOP will take up articles of impeachment against him (probably his first choice), shut down the government (probably his second), or merely counter every initiative he pens and appointment he makes from here on in.
But an equally tantalizing question is where his executive amnesty leaves putative Democratic 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton. Clinton has quite the history of statements that challenge the abuse of executive privilege by the White House.
Here are some highlights:
Clinton, In 2006: “We Have A Constitutional Democracy, If We Can Keep It Against The Most Extraordinary Claims Of Executive Power That We’ve Seen In The Nation’s History.” CLINTON: “We have a system of government, thank goodness. We have a constitutional democracy, if we can keep it against the most extraordinary claims of executive power that we’ve seen in the nation’s history.” (Hillary Clinton, Remarks At Doherty-Granoff Forum On Women Leaders, Providence, RI, 4/8/06)
Clinton, In 2007: “I Think You Have To Restore The Checks And Balances And The Separation Of Powers, Which Means Reining In The Presidency.” “Senator Hillary Clinton said yesterday that if she is elected president, she intends to roll back President Bush’s expansion of executive authority, including his use of presidential signing statements to put his own interpretation on bills passed by Congress or to claim authority to disobey them entirely. ‘I think you have to restore the checks and balances and the separation of powers, which means reining in the presidency,’ Clinton told the Boston Globe’s editorial board.” (Marcella Bombardieri, “Clinton Vows To Check Executive Power,” The Boston Globe, 10/11/07)
In 2007, Clinton Accused President Bush Of Engaging In A “Power Grab.” QUESTION: “And what specific powers might you relinquish as president, or renegotiate with Congress – for example the power to declare a US citizen an enemy combatant?” CLINTON: “Well, I think it is clear that the power grab undertaken by the Bush-Cheney administration has gone much further than any other president and has been sustained for longer.” (Hillary Clinton,Interview With The Guardian’s Michael Tomasky, 10/23/07)
Clinton: “When You Take The View That … They’re Inherent Powers That Reside In The Office And Therefore You Have Neither Obligation To Request Permission Nor To Ask For Ratification, We’re In A New Territory Here.” CLINTON: “Other presidents, like Lincoln, have had to take on extraordinary powers but would later go to the Congress for either ratification or rejection. But when you take the view that they’re not extraordinary powers, but they’re inherent powers that reside in the office and therefore you have neither obligation to request permission nor to ask for ratification, we’re in a new territory here. And I think that I’m gonna have to review everything they’ve done because I’ve been on the receiving end of that. There were a lot of actions which they took that were clearly beyond any power the Congress would have granted or that in my view that was inherent in the constitution. There were other actions they’ve taken which could have obtained congressional authorization but they deliberately chose not to pursue it as a matter of principle.”(Hillary Clinton, Interview With The Guardian’s Michael Tomasky, 10/23/07)
Clinton, In 2008: “This Administration’s Unbridled Ambition To Transform The Executive Into An Imperial Presidency In An Attempt To Strengthen The Office Has Weakened Our Nation.” CLINTON: “This administration’s unbridled ambition to transform the executive into an imperial presidency in an attempt to strengthen the office has weakened our nation. It has corrupted and corroded our moral authority and brought our prestige and reputation to its lowest ebb.” (Hillary Clinton, Remarks At The Capital Conference ’08, Washington, DC, 4/15/08)
Clinton: “Rather Than Faithfully Execute The Laws, He Has Rewritten Them Through Signing Statements, Ignored Them Through Secret Legal Opinions, Undermined Them By Elevating Ideology Over Facts.”CLINTON: “Unfortunately, our current president does not seem to understand the basic character of the office he holds. Rather than faithfully execute the laws, he has rewritten them through signing statements, ignored them through secret legal opinions, undermined them by elevating ideology over facts. Rather than defending the Constitution, he has defied its principles and traditions. He has abused his power while failing to understand its purpose.” (Hillary Clinton, Remarks At The Capital Conference ’08, Washington, DC, 4/15/08)
Clinton, In 2008: “Our System Works Best When We Follow The Way It’s Supposed To Work. Separation Of Powers, A Co-Equal Branch Of Government In The Congress…” CLINTON: “We’re going to get back to having a president who follows the Constitution, follows the laws, rebuilds accountability, and makes it clear that our system works best when we follow the way it’s supposed to work. Separation of powers, a co-equal branch of government in the Congress, in the Judiciary, that the Executive should not be trying to have so much power and abusing it.”(Hillary Clinton, Remarks At A Campaign Event, New York, NY, 5/10/08)
It will be interesting to watch.