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Sure, we were bombing Libya, but we weren't engaged in "hostilities," you see. As Orwell once put it, "you have to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that. No ordinary man could be such a fool."
More recently, in order to ram through several appointments, Obama summarily declared that the Senate was in recess, despite the fact that the Senate's own rules said it was in session.
It's almost enough to make you miss George W. Bush's ham-fisted "I'm the decider" approach to constitutional law. "I'll do what I want" is a less insulting legal argument than "I'm not doing what you think I'm doing."
My Cato Institute colleague Walter Olson, author of "Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Over-lawyered America", explains that "legal academia rewards cleverness in coming up with strained arguments for ideologically favored (or just expedient) positions; marginalizes as eccentric thinkers who favor original understanding as a guide" to the Constitution and often reduces law to "politics by other means."
Unfortunately, that training has served Obama well.
Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute and author of The Cult of the Presidency: America's Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power (Cato 2008).