"We can't wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job," Obama announced late last year. By "do its job" he actually meant "agree with the president and pass laws authorizing him to act." He let loose with a flurry of executive orders—special breaks for debt-addled students and homeowners, and unilateral revision of immigration laws and welfare work requirements—all via royal dispensation.
Obama isn't the first president, writes Gene Healy, to appoint nominees that the Senate wouldn't confirm. He is, however, the first to do so with the Senate—according to its own rules—actually in session.