Last night during the State of the Union, President Obama offered a faint homage to the framers and the separation of powers.
But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates. It will only happen if we fix our politics. A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security. But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens.
This morning, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough quickly dispelled any notions the President took that seriously.
“We’ll do audacious executive action throughout the course of the rest of the year, I am confident of that,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
He added that these actions Congress will not be able to “undo.”
“Process is your friend, but process also dictates what you can do,” McDonough said. “And we do want to make sure that the executive actions we undertake are not left hanging out there, subject to Congress undoing them.”
The “Spirit” of the President’s final year is “Why Not?”
In addition to gun control, the White House has expressed interest in further unilateral actions on immigration reform, and in working around Congress to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay. But McDonough said the White House is considering executive action on any and all issues, and that the main question President Obama plans to ask himself is “Why not?” “And so that’s the spirit through which we’ll approach this last year,” McDonough said.
I can’t even fathom how the President can utter such bold words of unity, while at the same time plan “audacious” unilateral action that the Congress cannot “undo.” Somewhere on Pennsylvania Avenue, I hope, nthe cognitive dissonance has erupted.