President dismisses separation of powers in State of the Union address

The last time President Obama addressed the Congress the most controversial part probably occurred when Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “You lie” when the president's claimed that illegal immigrants would not get special treatment under health care reform.

Political pundits and the mainstream media talking heads called this an unprecedented breach of protocol (the most polite comment made).

Last night, the president himself committed an unprecedented breach of protocol when he claimed the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision would “open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections.”

“I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people,” the president said, looking straight at the Supreme Court justices sitting stoically in the front row.

Although he prefaced his criticism with the words “with all due deference to the separation of powers” he ignored the spirit of that principle by misinterpreting the courts decision.

The president, purportedly a Constitution scholar, expressed his disdain for the separation principle later in the speech as well. Since Congress blocked a bill to establish a fiscal commission to review the budget for “programs that we can’t afford and don’t work,” he said he would sign an executive order to set up the commission anyway.

Other than an opening remark noting the Constitutional origins of the State of the Union address, the president never cited a section or article of the Constitution to justify any of the programs he proposed.

This was ostensibly the State of the Union address, but with the Democrats jumping up and clapping for standing ovations every few minutes, with a smiling Speaker Nancy Pelosi beaming over his shoulder, and with the scholarly Vice President (Uncle) Joe Biden nodding approval, it had all the trappings of a yet another stump speech.

Throughout the speech, President Obama keep referring to “Washington” in the third person, adding to the aura of a campaign event.

The president did not back off his pledge to reform national health care. He said he would not “walk away” from the issue and challenged the Congress not to walk away either.

“Let's get it done,” he said.

Most of the speech, however, focused on the economy and jobs. President Obama claimed credit for preventing the “Second Depression” with his stimulus package, including tax cuts for 95 percent of all Americans, and he defended the bank bailout.

He said the one thing that united Democrats and Republicans was that they all hated the bank bailout, but it was necessary to prevent a meltdown of the financial system.
“I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal,” the president said.
The president noted that most of the stimulus money given to the banks had been recovered, but he then proposed to give the recovered $30 million to small banks for small business loans. He also proposed a fee on the “biggest banks” to recover the rest of the stimulus money.
The president announced a plan to freeze government spending in three years, but it would not start until 2011 because “that's how budgets work.” However, he budget freeze would not include national security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which compose the bulk of the Federal budget. In addition, large portions of the defense and national security expenditures are “off the books.”

“But,” the president hastily added, all other “discretionary funding” would be included.

Comments

Nonsense

The oh-so-hallowed Supremes abandoned long-stand precedent to shoot democracy in the back of the head, and the president said he disagreed with their decision. Turning that into a rant about a risk to separation of powers is absurd. Congress criticizes the president every day ... and vice versa. Why should the Supremes get a pass when they do something stupid.

And the Supremes were not sitting stoically. Alito mouthed words of objection. I guess next you'll be criticizing him for trying to abrogate separation principles.

Soft landing

The President should have learned something from the Massachusetts victory by Brown. I think he needs to get some new advisors or at least add some who live in the real world. There is another view beyond the elitist look=down-the-nose scowl. Hopefully the President does not think his rock star status puts him above the Supreme Court. I think even some of the old line Democrats will stand up for the Supreme Court and the Constitution. Hopefully.

What democracy do you live in?

I'd be more worried about the coup d'etat that the right wing of the SCOTUS is trying to pull off. What part of unlimited corporate funds to back their own candidates or attack your candidate don't you get?

I expect the President to protect us from that insanity.

This 'Supreme Court Five" deserves to be impeached, rather.....

than criticized. You don't have to be a legal scholar to understand what a different definition this will put on our form of government. I think "Fascist" might be the term that comes to mind, when you elevate the corporations to the equivalent of the 'citizens' of this country. Plus they have given even more 'direct representation' to the wealthiest in our nation. Somewhat like the Earls and Lords had in jolly old England when the king ruled. I know the country is too divided to do any impeachments, but this issue is too important to just let it slide until the dictatorship will be the next step.

I live down the road

If you learn your politics from a book you lose insight into the real world. In the real world corporations, both foreigh and domestic, have funneled campaign funds to whomever they choose through the front door, back door, side door and down the chimney. At least now they can do it legally. And what is to stop corporation A from meeting corporation B's campaign spending. Good old American free enterprise. If Jelly Belly doesn't like how much money Moon Pie is spending to elect Slim Jim, then Jelly Belly can spend their money to elect Fat Fannie. If you do not think that corporate money has been influencing campaigns in the past then you may need to get out more often. Money rules. Always has and always will. Money buys power in every country and every form of government. Write all the laws you want and talk all the ideals you want and then do what the man with the money says to do. That is reality.

At least now they can do it

At least now they can do it legally.

I guess the question is: Has SCOTUS done the right thing in making this "legal". That the rich(est) have more power and influence is a given, but do they really have to flaunt it so freely? The owners should take care that the wealth gap doesn't get too great, lest the rabble rise up.

On a side note it's too bad that John Edwards turned out to be such a creep. He was the only one talking about the "two Americas", but he's a goner now.

-b

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There cannot fail to be more kinds of things, as nature grows further disclosed. - Sir Francis Bacon

It is too bad

I feel sorry for the guy, which I know is not in vogue. There but for something goes whatever.

And you're right. Now it's almost impossible to use the words Two Americas ... even though the concept is the great issue of our time.

Sad all around.

"disdain for the separation principle"

Are you kidding me?

Do you seriously intend to equate an obvious rhetorical flourish ("with all due respect to separation of powers") to an actual criticism of the principle of separation of powers?

Do you seriously intend to suggest that any criticism of a Supreme Court ruling expresses disdain for our Constitution?

If so, please forgive us for declining to take any of the rest of this analysis seriously. However, I do look forward to your next post, condemning all those anti-choice lawmakers, jurists and activists for their presumably anti-Constitutional criticisms of Roe v. Wade.

Dan Besse