This brewing hysteria over Obama has gone over the edge. What is the great fear of Obama talking to school kids? That he will sweet-talk them into being little ObamaBots to pursue a glorious socialist revolution in Amerika? Peggy Noonan captures the Independent Angst of the moment in her column today, that the feeling is growing the Obama Is Not One Of Us. It has already begun to infect the moderate Democrats, particularly the soon-to-emerge Hilary '12! crowd. It may take down the leftwing wingnut and Green Czar, Van Jones, for his intemperate remarks. But are all these Czars a fifth column to take over control of the government unconstitutionally, or just a way to give Chicago-style patronage jobs to those people who helped Obama get elected? And is the threat in '12 a moderate challenger, or a more radical candidate angry over the loss of the public option?
The best assessment of this I have read comes from James Srode in the American Spectator article One term Obama. You would expect this publication to be virulent against Obama, as it outed President Clinton's Paula Jones escapade that eventually cascaded into a special prosecutor and impeachment. Yet this piece provides a reasoned historical perspective about past Presidents who got into similar situations, and gives a much needed perspective to quell the brewing hysteria.
The thesis is that during grave crises, the better Presidents will seize excessive and unconstitutional powers, and as the crisis abates the powers will be pulled back. Lincoln for example went way beyond anything even imagined about Obama's purported power grab; and yet as the Civil War was being won his powers were pulled back. If he hadn't been assassinated, he might have become a failed President in his second term, as Wilson was - another example of a Presient who went beyond Constitutional powers from 1915-1918, to prepare for war, and then found his legs cut out from under him at home when he tried to create the League of Nations. The crisis had abated and the body politic took back what he had seized.
As our financial crisis has seemed to recede, the power pullback is already well underway. This is very early in his Presidency. The mistake he made was to try to seize power in areas unrelated to the crisis. Our crisis is financial, and his agenda is to fix healthcare, global warming and education. The two bills in process, healthcare reform and cap&trade, are hugely complex monstrosities which look more like power grabbing than problem solving. He should be benefiting from the green shoots; but instead he is sinking from them.
Ironically a W-Shaped Recession and a second wave down might do more to help Obama's Presidency than success against the Great Recession. If his luck is we muddle through, his karma may be that he overplayed the Crisis Card, and it came back to bite him.
The Republic is in crisis. It is always in crisis. Get a grip.