Commentary: The abuse of political rhetoric is more disastrous than abuse of presidential power

By Jim Russell
Empire Press Correspondent

People are angry at the political rhetoric abusing us via our newsprint and electronic media. After looking in frustration at the issue of Obama exceeding his constitutional authority, I was stunned at how confusing and wasteful that discussion is.

Obama provoked it by misstating his intentions and acting impatiently. Republicans attacked him with exaggerated claims and faulty evidence. Now we’re wallowing in wasted words inflamed by anger.

Meanwhile, people condemned to dangerous utility infrastructure have suffered because Congress avoided investments until recently.

Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union address: “Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Why did he say, “without legislation”? It’s red meat for Republicans to gobble up and attack him. Presidential power operates within the balance of powers authorized by the U.S. Constitution and authorized by legislation passed by Congress.

He should be one of the people in the U.S. whose word we could trust the most. He’s a constitutional attorney who’s been president for six years as attorneys advised him about actions being within the constitutional and legislative powers.

He could have said, “Wherever and whenever I can take steps authorized by the Constitution and legislation passed by Congress to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” Big deal. We all want him to expand opportunities for our families, right?

Then he acted impatiently.

He used his right to appoint Noel Canning to the National Labor Relations Board while Congress was in a three-day weekend recess. The Supreme Court overturned the appointment unanimously in the Canning case. Obama should have waited for a well-established recess, which Congress takes regularly during the summer and Christmas seasons. Obama’s impatience impaled him.

That decision prompted a claim ruled not true by factcheck.org. U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) made the claim on Fox News in 2014 that the Supreme Court’s “9-0 decision last week was the 13th time the Supreme Court has voted 9-0 that the president has exceeded his constitutional authority.” (factcheck.org/2014/07/obama-and-executive-overreach/)

Factcheck.org said, “Goodlatte claimed the Supreme Court has voted unanimously 13 times that ‘the president has exceeded his constitutional authority.’ That’s not true.”

Goodlatte should be a congressman whose word we could trust the most. His website said he’s an attorney who’d served continuously since 1982 and is chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary. The Committee has jurisdiction over immigration, terrorism, crime, intellectual property, constitutional amendments, anti-trust, patents and copyrights. In addition, the committee is responsible for oversight of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

With the gravity of his office, we would hope his statement wouldn’t crash to ground when draped with facts.

I’d like to sue him for exceeding his congressional integrity as chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Factcheck.org spoke with two constitutional scholars, Richard Lempert, a non-resident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and an emeritus law professor at the University of Michigan, and Adam Winkler, a professor of law at UCLA.

Here’s some of what factcheck.org found: Lempert said, “only Noel Canning can be fairly cited to support this position.”

With a batting record of one out of 13, Goodlatte should be benched.

Factcheck.org pointed out several of the cases originated during the George W. Bush administration and Obama’s administration supported the case. Factcheck.org reported that, “Lambert says these cases weren’t about the extent of presidential power, but ‘rather they concerned technical and jurisdictional issues or the meaning on statutory language.’ ”

Factcheck.org said two cases contested law enforcement rights to use GPS tracking devices and search cell phones without a warrant, not presidential abuse of power.

Winkler said one, “was widely viewed as a major victory for the administration in limiting Arizona’s anti-immigration law.” Obama’s power as president was never an issue.

Somehow, someway we must stop this tragic madness and focus our attention on more serious issues such as investments in infrastructure to make sure our water pipes carry lead-free water.