Americans are being treated to the spectacle of a lawless president ridiculing, even taunting, congressional opponents in a tawdry political charade, pretending necessity is his raison d'être for ignoring the Constitution to run his empire by executive bluster.
"Middle-class families can't wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff," Barack Obama huffed in a recent speech anointing himself America's savior. "So sue me. As long as they're doing nothing, I'm not going to apologize for trying to do something."
The arrogance was palpable. "Trying to do something" is his cute way of saying he plans to ignore Congress, the separation of powers, the Constitution -- and nail down some votes. Opposition to what he wants, he would tell you, makes going it alone entirely necessary. He knows best. If Congress will not do as I say, I will do as I will, he warns
The president's antics are not the first or only examples of chief executives clashing with Congress or the high court -- Nixon's "imperial presidency" comes to mind, or FDR, or Harry Truman or, certainly, Bill Clinton. But Obama's misadventures push the envelope and underscore why Alaska's Senate race is vitally important to Democrats and Republicans alike.
Never mind that congressional concerns about Obama's constitutional excesses and selective enforcement of the law are well-grounded. Never mind that some of the congressional recalcitrance that so irritates Obama is born of sincere disagreements about political and economic policies -- and a national debt approaching $18 trillion. Never mind that not everybody in Washington, D.C., is a beholden leftist eager to do the bidding of this scandal-plagued president. (Not everybody, it turns out, votes with him 97 percent of the time.) And never mind that Obama finds the Constitution a nettlesome roadblock to his grand scheme, a view some find offensive.
This fracas is about numbers. Democrats have a Senate majority. Republicans want one. Mark Begich's seat, filched in 2008 after a rigged Justice Department probe of then-Sen. Ted Stevens, would be a weighty prize.
Anybody with an IQ higher than room temperature can see Obama and his chums are dedicated to energizing their base, no matter the cost, in a dicey year for Democrats. They want to accentuate the president's differences with Congress -- and blame that institution, rather than Obama's lunacy, for the nation's woes -- and pretend Republicans are the problem. Badgering, baiting and bullying Congress is a nifty way to get headlines and stir the mud.
In daring Republicans to sue him, Obama is pressing to keep alive the left's fading fortunes and hopes for a Senate majority. He knows a lawsuit likely would go nowhere fast -- hopefully the GOP can see that, too -- but provide a propaganda bonanza. You could hear it in his mocking.
"Obstruction," he said, "keeps the system rigged for those who are doing fine, at the very top." He promised to act on his own and then took a moment to take credit for a host of things. (What is it with Democrats and taking credit where none is due?) He is going to help the middle class, he vowed, but stopped short of talking about the tab.
He grudgingly conceded congressional Republicans are patriots and love their country and families -- the "despite being Republicans" part was implied. They just do not get it, he said, and have an inaccurate worldview.
Here is the translation of his gobbledygook: "I'm going to do what I want, no matter what you think. Republicans are stupid and evil; they do not understand we must punish achievers and producers who are getting more than their share. That benefits everybody. Everybody knows government regulation and oversight is the only path to a prosperous and economically equal society. Everybody. Except Republicans. And I am way smarter than anybody."
Many presidents mastered the art of politics, the give and take, that working-with-Congress thingy. Obama, unfortunately, has not matured politically beyond his community-organizing days when a chant that rhymes and a catchy placard could work wonders. With no other leadership tools in his toolbox, he is reduced to taunting opposition members of Congress. He will make no friends.
Instead of suing, or ignoring Obama's abuses, this Congress should do what any Congress can do -- cut off his money. Could civility be far behind?
Oh, and claim it was necessary.
Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com., a division of Porcaro Communications, which now is placing media for the Mead Treadwell campaign.
By PAUL JENKINS