Andrew Rosenthal: Obama Is Better Than Bush Because His Abuses of Executive Power Are Necessary


Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor at The New York Times, notes that "President George W. Bush used his executive power to bypass Congress, almost as a matter of routine," and "now President Barack Obama is pulling a similar stunt." But while "I was appalled" by Bush's abuses of executive power, Rosenthal says, "I am not appalled" by Obama's. Why? Because Bush is a Republican, and Obama is a Democrat? Because Obama's policy agenda is more to Rosenthal's liking than Bush's? No, no, no. It's because Bush abused his power gratuitously, while Obama does so only out of necessity:

Mr. Bush's signing statements not only amounted to a significant usurpation of power, but they came at a time when Congress was giving him everything he wanted. Congress passed the deeply flawed Patriot Act and authorized the invasion of Iraq. It even gave its retroactive approval to warrantless wiretapping. Mr. Bush also achieved many of his domestic policy goals, including tax breaks that mostly benefited the richest Americans.

The contrast with the Obama administration is stark.

For nearly three years, President Obama devoted a great deal of effort to finding compromises with Congressional Republicans. That was futile, in my view, since those Republicans had made it clear from the day he was inaugurated in 2009 that their plan was to oppose everything he wanted, and then paint him as a failed president. (Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, said his party's "number one goal" was to keep the president from winning a second term.)

Mr. Obama got fed up, finally, last fall,…and the result was the "We Can't Wait" project, which has led to dozens of executive actions on a range of issues, including jobs for veterans and fuel economy standards.

Possibly relevant: As a senator, Obama supported giving "retroactive approval to warrantless wiretapping," along with retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that broke the law to facilitate warrantless wiretapping. As president, he not only has demanded reauthorization of "the deeply flawed PATRIOT Act" but has used a secret interpretation of the law to justify a form of surveillance that we are not allowed to know about but that (according to two Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee) would shock us if we did.

In any case, Rosenthal thinks Obama deserves credit because he is happy to work with Congress as long as Congress does what he wants, resorting to extraconstitutional means only when they are necessary to accomplish his goals. Seriously? As I said in 2008 regarding Bush's illegal use of money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to bail out automakers (an initiative that Obama enthusiastically continued and enlarged):

This is the argument of every strongman, dictator, and president-for-life who has ever overriden uncooperative legislators: They won't let me do what I want to do, and this is an emergency, so I'm going to do it anyway.

Obama, who as a presidential candidate criticized Bush's unilateralism and promised to respect constitutional limits on executive power, has been at least as bad as his predecessor on that score and in some ways worse. While Bush secretly contemplated the assassination of suspected terrorists, Obama has boldly asserted his authority to summarily execute anyone he deems an enemy of the state and has actually begun to do so. While Bush sought congressional approval for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama observed no such niceties before launching his illegal war against Libya, pushing an absurd interpretation of the War Powers Act to explain why he did not need anyone's permission. And contrary to Rosenthal's theory that Obama started bypassing Congress last fall because those mean Republicans were so darn uncooperative, both of these abuses (along with many more, ranging from extorting oil-spill reparations to blocking lawsuits by torture victims) occurred well before the president supposedly abandoned his hopes of bipartisanship.

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  1. You can’t parody the TEAM BLUE scum. They’re saying it to our faces: it’s only bad when the other TEAM does it. And they’re getting more and more blatant about it.

    This won’t end well.

    1. Remember those “It’s not fascism when WE do it” posters lefties were fond of during the Bush years?

      Good times, good times.

      1. the arrogance of the Rosenthal types is astounding. They really do believe people are that stupid. Of course, a good many are; how else to explain the Obama coronation? Still; liberals used to weasel-word stuff like this. Guess 3 years of King Obie I and they have become emboldened.

      2. Their self-unawareness is mind-bending. I mean, it’s truly sociopathic.

    2. Hell, if you take his argument at face value, what Obama is doing would be worse. If Bush could get everything he wanted from Congress, his actions were merely a more efficient way to get what was going to happen anyway. Obama is subverting another supposedly co-equal branch.

      1. That was my thought as well.

  2. NYT editor dumb enough to put that shit in writing? yep.

    1. Scary thing, I think he actually believes his own line of shit.

      1. He does – Orwell didn’t just invent ‘doublethink’ out of whole cloth, he had experience with people like Rosenthal.

  3. They exploited the fear and insecurity that were pervasive at the time to claim emergency powers, creating offshore detention centers where prisoners were held without charge and eavesdropping on Americans without a warrant.

    Yeah! Cause we don’t do that! Just like we don’t assassinate citizens without due process… Oh wait…

  4. I hope Mr Rosenthal’s strange views don’t mar the quality of NYT editorial page pieces.

    1. on the contrary. His views reflect the quality.

  5. This guy could be my retarded Geology teacher’s twin brother. And not just by looks.

  6. Seriously, What. The. Fuck?

    That motherfucker has some fucking balls. Too bad 50% of the country will agree with him.

    1. Oh, and talk about a punchable face.

      1. A true backpfeifengesicht.

      2. I would second a nomination for one of the top ten punchable faces of the year.

    2. I don’t know about 50% of the country, but just looking at the comments to his editorial give me hope.

  7. house gop obstructionism has lead to expanded executive powers and the state gop wars on women & brown people will lead to a probable 2d term & state-level reverses on the 2010 results. >this is free-range irony which hipsters will love.

    1. Does it hurt much to be that stupid?

      1. Orrin doesn’t understand you, he only speaks Dipshit Pidgin.

        1. “She only speaks French, Roy. She doesn’t speak imbecile.”

          1. you of all people coming to the defense of homophobes who wouldnt give you the time of day. see ken melhman

        2. No kidding. I’ve stopped responding to friends on Facebook who repeat the War on Women bullshit. I can’t tell if they’re really that stupid, or crazy, or both.

          1. dont forget teh war on browns

          2. I have some FB friends who streams of political effluence (right as well as left) were just too much – you can unsubscribe without unfriending.

    2. Yeah, those darn obstrunctionist he had to valiantly fight off for the first two years of his presidency when the Democrats had control of both houses.

      Jesus tap dancing christ Orrin, that was straight up retard.

      1. Dare I say “Stack like” in its magnificent stupidity!

      2. filibuster rules nate

        1. I’m sorry, I thought 60 seats meant filibuster proof. Googles it

          Yep, 60 seats is filibuster proof and Obama had that.

          1. Not to mention ramming through Obamacare without a single Team RED vote.


  8. Meanwhile, the stupid from Team Red continues unabated at the Washington Times as well:

    Franklin Graham exhorts us to help South Sudan because the Good Samaritan would tell us the best way to help the victim on the road is to bomb the motherfuckers who robbed him.…..ect-innoc/

    1. Did the Good Samaritan get robbed? I thought it was the Jewish guy lying on the ground.

      1. Migraine today, my proper pronoun usage is impaired

        1. No, now I read it the way you meant. English is self-correcting that way.

    2. To be fair, we don’t know what the Good Samaritan did after leaving the victim with the healer. Maybe he tracked the robbers and killed them and their families in retribution, and Jesus just edited that part out for time.

      1. Ah! Here it is in the Director’s Cut version:

        Luke 10: 37(a) “And the Samaritan then went unto the home of the robbers and threw rocks upon them that they and their wives and their brothers’ wives and all of their children and their children’s children unto the fourth generation were slaughtered.
        37(b) And also the Samaritan went unto the house of the Priest and the Levite and slaughtered the and all of their houses as well.”

  9. “His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them,…”

  10. Kiss the truth goodbye,
    His Highness needs tomorrow.
    Spin the muck, the aim is true.
    But I can’t regret,
    What I did for love, what I did for love.

  11. If I had a retarded son he’d look like Andrew Rosenthal.

    1. sounds like pretty ironclad birthcontrol right there.

      1. Would it be worth $3000 a year to prevent the same mistake his parents made”?

    2. Ya think ol’ Andy got picked on in junior high ?

  12. For nearly three years, President Obama devoted a great deal of effort to finding compromises with Congressional Republicans.

    For at least two of those years Democrats totally controlled Congress. Obama couldn’t get what he wanted past his own party.

    1. It’s like BO never said that line, “elections have consequences.”

      1. Elections only have consequences when Democrats win. If it’s somebody else who wins they’re obstructionist hostage-taking terrorists playing political games.

    2. Though actually there were only about 6 months between Arlen Specter switching parties and Scott Brown winning in MA.

    3. ^This, which is why the whole he needs another term to do what he really wants is so fucking stupid.

  13. (Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, said his party”s “number one goal” was to keep the president from winning a second term.)

    How the hell is this some kind of scathing revelation? I mean, outside of all the other hypocrisy and mental gymnastics in this idiotic piece, the idea that the Democrats didn’t feel the same way about Dubya is insulting.

    But oh wait, it’s different when they do it! Of course, that’s the whole point. Everything is different when they do it. This is really the archetypal editorial on the subject of Team Red vs Team Blue. Our Team will take either side of an issue depending on who’s got which type of power when, and we will always be right.

    1. You weren’t paying attention when Harry Reid said he wanted to do everything in his power to make George Bush’s presidency a success!

      Why do you hate Barry? He’s so dreamy, but those damn Republicans just make him so mad. It’s their fault if he hits you.

    2. If you are truly dedicated to the goals of creating a world where compassion trumps profits, you are not going to let a minor concern like rational consistency get in the way. Only the apathetic get side tracked; for the true believer, it isn’t even worth noticing.

  14. “The contrast with the Obama administration is stark.”
    Bush = 4 letters
    Obama = 5 letters

  15. For nearly three years, President Obama devoted a great deal of effort to finding compromises with Congressional Republicans.

    Really? I hadn’t noticed.

    What I have seen is a President who never sought to compromise with Republicans while his party held both houses of Congress (that is, through January, 2011).

    Since then, the lack of substantive legislation of any kind should give a clue that there hasn’t been much compromisin’ going on. What there has been, is an odd mix of (a) benign neglect, as Obama stays above the Congressional fray, and (b) brinksmanship and demonizing, often followed by a Republican cave.

    1. And there was a whole lot of compromising under George W. Bush. I can see why Rosenthal might dislike some of it, but the Energy Bills and Medicare Part D and so forth ought to be somewhat up his alley, if he didn’t hate them because Republicans were involved.

      As for libertarians, GWB certainly gave compromising and bipartisanship a bad name.

  16. I posted this yesterday morning!

    1. Yes, and I couldn’t read it then either.

  17. Has anyone else noticed how all NYT lib-tards have very punchable faces? Is that a requirement to work at the NYT?

    “Wanted: Newspaper editor with left-wing views and severe cognitive dissonance. Ability to perform mental gymnastics that would put Nadia Comaneci to shame required. Additional requirements: unjustifiable smugness, hipster beard, round glasses and punchable face.”

  18. If only Marion Barry becomes dictator some day under the post Obama totalitarian regime. After wiping out Asian grocery owners and Fillipino nurses, one can only hope the regime picks as its next scapegoats sniveling idiot leftover gays and Jews at the New York Times. At this point the Upper West side is the central locus of proto-Nazis in America. If only Indiana Jones could release the spirits of these moronic twits’ great great grandparents so they could deal some educational justice to their devolved, retarded grand kids.

  19. Why, oh why do you give the power-worshiping lewinsky press anything more than sentence of dismissal?

    Not only do mendacious lickspittles like this deserve no effort invested to respond to them, but it does nothing to forward your own point to an audience that you want to persuade.

    Boycott these fascists.

  20. At least the editors of Pravda were working under direct government orders and threats. This guy and his minions actually *believe* all that shit.

  21. So, Obama supporters are liars? I’m shocked! < /feigned outrage >

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