WaPo poll: 52% support Obama using executive orders to bypass Congress on his legislative goals

posted at 4:41 pm on January 27, 2014 by Allahpundit

A little hors d’oeuvre to whet your appetite for tomorrow night’s “do what I want or I’ll do it myself” threat to Congress. Lefty Greg Sargent is crowing that this poll result proves that GOP accusations of “tyranny” in O’s uses and abuses of executive power are doomed to go nowhere politically. It’s hard to convince the public that the president’s a tyrant, after all, when 52 percent think he’s justified in acting as he has. Er, okay, but we live in interesting times if a pattern of dubious presidential action can be blithely dismissed with “well, the public’s not too upset about it.” Is it tyrannical or isn’t it? The answer doesn’t depend on polling.

But don’t take a conservative’s word for it:

“It’s really the character of the actions, and their subject,” says Jonathan Turley, a constitutional scholar at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. “In my view, Obama has surpassed George W. Bush in the level of circumvention of Congress and the assertion of excessive presidential power. I don’t think it’s a close question.”…

“President Obama meets every definition of an imperial presidency,” says Turley, who notes that he voted for Obama. “He is the president that Richard Nixon always wanted to be.”

[W]hen he was asked directly about the delayed employer mandate in a New York Times interview last July, Obama didn’t argue for the legality of his moves or raise the precedent of the rollout of Bush’s drug plan. Instead, he lashed out at his critics.

“There’s not an action that I take you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority,” Obama said. “Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency.”

Another law prof interviewed for the piece quoted above was astounded that Obama would defend his executive actions in such personal terms, without even the pretense of a legal justification. And yet, like Sargent says, the public approves, which apparently is the end of the matter.

Question, though: Does it approve? There are two problems with polling executive authority: An intelligent answer requires a handle on basic civics, which is a tall order for some low-information voters, and the question itself risks eliding the difference between proper and improper uses of that authority. E.g., WaPo’s question was worded this way: “Presidents have the power in some cases to bypass Congress and take action by executive order to accomplish their administration’s goals. Is this approach something you [favor or oppose]?” You could ask a similar question about Congress this way: “Some critics say Congress should do more to assert its power over war. Do you agree or disagree?” If that question is asked in the context of a national debate over whether Congress should have the sole power to declare war rather than look the other way at presidentially ordered “interventions,” then agreeing is defensible. If instead the context is a national debate over whether Congress should have the power to command troops in the field, then agreement is not so defensible. But if your civics education is thin and you’re unaware of the specific policy context in which such a vague question is asked, there’s no telling how you’ll process a question like that. In fact, WaPo’s question is especially problematic in that it’s … not actually a question. They assert that presidents do have the power to bypass Congress and then simply ask whether that power should be exercised. Rephrase it to note that some legal scholars think Obama’s gone rogue to a degree that would shame Nixon and see what they think then.

Go fogure that when a “question” remains as broadly open to interpretation as this one, voters fall back on partisanship:


Naturally it’s the liberals, the most zealously anti-Bush partisans of the last decade, who sneered at Dubya for acting like “King George” with his assertions of executive power, who are deepest in the tank for King Barack. The other traditional elements of Obama’s base are also in the tank, of course. Pay special attention to the second graph:


If my theory is right that you need some foundation in basic civics to make a reasoned judgment on separation of powers and legislating in a democracy, we should probably see support for O’s power grabs decline as educational levels increase. We don’t. Of the four demographics here, postgrads are the second-most likely to say that Obama can “bypass” Congress. I think they know better; they certainly would if President Romney was suspending mandates and moving statutory deadlines willy nilly. They’re just mostly lefty hacks who hate that the Republican House won’t rubber-stamp Obama’s agenda, so they feel obliged to rubber-stamp his power grabs instead. Why we should celebrate that there’s enough of them to form a slim overall majority on this question, I have no idea. But yes, it may well be true that the GOP’s “tyranny” charges are a dead end politically — simply because there are too many people who don’t care if they’re true or not.

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Schadenfreude on January 27, 2014 at 7:49 PM

We had a good run, I guess.

WisCon on January 27, 2014 at 8:00 PM

The 52% must come from the counties around Washington, DC that are full of government employees, do you honestly think they are going to bite the hand that feeds them?

mixplix on January 27, 2014 at 8:10 PM


Schadenfreude on January 27, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Be more … what !

You really should finish the thought, and correct your spelling.

listens2glenn on January 27, 2014 at 8:26 PM

listens2glenn on January 27, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Also, I really should LEARN to properly punctuate.

It should be a question mark, after “what”.

listens2glenn on January 27, 2014 at 8:31 PM

They’ll care when the dictator comes knocking at their door (or slams it down) – this is bad, very bad. The MSM is the cause of the total lack of understanding of what this means.

interesting – people on the left or Democrats always think they’ll be spared getting hurt by anything they want from their guy. Those who supported Stalin, thought the same thing. Stalin murdered his “friends” to scare the daylights out of anyone left.

Want to live in fear the rest of your life? Keep putting these Dems in office.

MN J on January 27, 2014 at 8:40 PM

It’s hard to convince the public that the president’s a tyrant, after all, when 52 percent think he’s justified in acting as he has.

Keep in mind exactly where the term “tyrant” comes from and what it actually means;

The English noun tyrant appears in Middle English use, via Old French, from the 1290s. The word derives from Latin tyrannus, meaning “illegitimate ruler”, and this in turn from the Greek τύραννος “monarch, ruler of a polis”. The final -t arises in Old French by association with the present participles in -ant.

Historical forms

In ancient Greece, tyrants were influential opportunists that came to power by securing the support of different factions of a deme. The word “tyrannos”, possibly pre-Greek, Pelasgian or eastern in origin, then carried no ethical censure; it simply referred to anyone, good or bad, who obtained executive power in a polis by unconventional means.

Support for the tyrants came from the growing middle class and from the peasants who had no land or were in debt to the wealthy landowners. It is true that they had no legal right to rule, but the people preferred them over kings or the aristocracy. The Greek tyrants stayed in power by using mercenary soldiers from outside of their respective city-state. To mock tyranny, Thales wrote that the strangest thing to see is “an aged tyrant” meaning that tyrants do not have the public support to survive for long.

Tyrant- Wikipedia

In short, a tyrant was a despotic ruler who came to power by what is now called “populism”, i.e., public acclaim. And who first attacked the “enemies” of their supporters. In the end, though, most inevitably turned on those who supported them, as well.

Tyrants come in two forms; those who oppress and/or destroy the factions which did not support them in their rise to power, and those who once in power simply try to oppress and/or destroy everybody. The latter kind are the sort Thales defined as short-lived. The former sort can last quite a while, as can be seen throughout the Third World.

The One wants to be the first, and I suspect dreams of being the second. Because fundamentally, he doesn’t like Western civilization, anything it has created, or anyone in it.

Except, of course, the Messiah he sees in the mirror.

clear ether


eon on January 27, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Yes! Troll-bait!

Lanceman on January 27, 2014 at 4:48 PM

…you’re going to go hungry!

KOOLAID2 on January 27, 2014 at 10:16 PM

The Leftists have been very successful in the “Congress sucks” propaganda…many Conservatives must have bought into it, too.

Oh, we all know that Congress indeed sucks, but they weren’t saying this when the Dems controlled both houses.

The underlying implication is that the greedy Republicans aren’t going along with the Prez/Dems, therefore everything’s getting screwed up…it’s the Repubicans’ fault…so “Congress” is simply a euphemism for “Republicans” these days.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 27, 2014 at 10:17 PM

WaPo poll: 52% support Obama using executive orders to bypass Congress on his legislative goals

From what orifice did WAmazonPO pull that one?

No matter. They need that posted before the SOTU, where Obama has to cut for Amnesty and the RINOs have tapped a pro Amnesty lady to make the ‘rebuttal’

It is pretty much a three way handshake for the SOTU.

At least the German Reichstag passed the ‘Enabling Act’ to let Hitler rule by decree. This Congress will let Obama declare his own Enabling Act Executive Order, but take a cut of the spoils anyway

Ermächtigungsgesetz: Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich (English: “Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich!

seig heil

entagor on January 27, 2014 at 10:18 PM


I didn’t know that enforcement of constitutional law was subject to Popular Vote!

jaydee_007 on January 27, 2014 at 11:02 PM

Yeah, after Fast & Furious, Helping All Qeada take over Libya, Helping the Muslim Brotherhood take over Egypt, After helping give Ran more time to build a nuke, after Benghazi, After having the IRS target & take out his political enemies – the TEA Party & Conservatives, After allowing the DOJ to spy on reporters/editors and their families, after allowing the NSA list all Americans as threats to this nation to spy on all Americans, After Obamacare and all the lies it was built upon, and After holding a State of The Union speech in which he refuses to APOLOGIZE for all of this or even mentions it but instead has his ‘Hitler/3rd Reich’ moment in which he declares he will ignore the Constitution and laws to bypass Congress in order to push his own agenda…WHAT COULD GO WRONG?1

easyt65 on January 28, 2014 at 12:17 AM

Over. The nation is full of low information voters. It was a great experiment.

Decoski on January 28, 2014 at 7:54 AM

Biggest problem fcing the US today-the utter stupidity of its citizens!

redware on January 28, 2014 at 8:52 AM

The money will run out – keep your guns handy – once the entitlement class realizes they can’t steal our stuff they will go to their current overlords and demand satisfaction.

Zomcon JEM on January 28, 2014 at 9:12 AM

You USURP other people’s authority. If it’s already yours, you’re not
USURPING it, Genius.

FineasFinn on January 28, 2014 at 9:29 AM

If I wanted a fucking dictator, it sure as hell wouldn’t be this clown.

RobertE on January 28, 2014 at 9:54 AM

The next time a Republican wins the White House (we know it won’t happen, but just go with it) the numbers will reverse and no one on the right will care.

libfreeordie on January 28, 2014 at 10:11 AM

But yes, it may well be true that the GOP’s “tyranny” charges are a dead end politically — simply because there are too many people who don’t care if they’re true or not.

That the public appears to show little interest in an imperial president carrying out a quiet coup says more about their political illiteracy than it does genuine support. Obama and the Democrat’s baby talk works.

That Republicans cry crocodile tears over it is the critical issue. Save a handful of Constitutionally minded members of the house and senate, the majority of Republicans appear to be complete cowards or worse, actually support the President.

RobertE on January 28, 2014 at 10:14 AM

The problem is… the people think “Congress sucks”… except for their elected Congress person. Thus the incumbents keep coming back.

If there’s ever another Constitutional convention (either forced by the states or self-induced by Congress, I’m not holding my breath for the latter), it HAS to address the abuse of executive orders, among other things.

TMOverbeck on January 28, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Obama don need no stinkin congress, he got pen and he got fon, he be da king!

Chessplayer on January 28, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Obama don need no stinkin congress, he got pen and he got fon, he be da king!

Chessplayer on January 28, 2014 at 10:28 AM


libfreeordie on January 28, 2014 at 10:51 AM

As if what the public thinks makes a difference.

Xavier on January 28, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Tonight’s speech from Obama is expected to be his version of Hitler’s ‘3rd Reich’ speech just before he dissolved the government and cabinets and set about running Germany on his own as a dictator. Obama is expected to declare, with nothing to lose being in his final term in office, that he intends to rule on his own through Executive Orders.

(Caution – Sarcasm Ahead) I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

easyt65 on January 28, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Some fret over a weeklong closure of schools due to winter weather.

I fret over the 13 years students spend in schools when they are open, absorbing fairy tales and idiocy.

jangle12 on January 28, 2014 at 11:07 AM


They have an arrogant sense of self importance – they exaggerate their achievements – they expect to be recognized as superior. So many times we hear candidates tell us about the wonderful things they have accomplished only to find out they are not so. We chalk it up to campaign rhetoric. And it may be. But the truth has been compromised to impress us. And your vote may be cast based on lies and deceit.

They are preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love. It’s the word ‘fantasies’ that’s important here. That’s why they commit illegal or immoral acts that they see others paying the consequences for. They actually do not believe hey will be caught. And they are truly surprised when they are. They are living in a fantasy that somehow they are more powerful or smarter then the person who got caught.

They see themselves as ‘special’ or ‘unique’ and believe they should only associate with ‘high-status’ people. Ordinary members of their constituency are looked down on. By being in office they are able to surround themselves with wealthier, more ‘upscale’ cohorts. They socialize a lot, but rarely with the people who actually elected them.

They require excessive admiration. Just take a look at the rallies and gatherings they experience on a regular basis with people holding signs and calling their name. Politicians and actors are the only people who experience that kind of adulation. It certainly isn’t unique to see actors becoming politicians and politicians becoming actors. They have very similar personalities.

They have a sense of entitlement. They expect favorable treatment. If they commit a crime or a sexual dalliance they expect to be forgiven. They are above the law because they are so special.

They are interpersonally exploitative and take advantage of others to achieve their goals. People in power often find it hard to resist taking money or gifts from others. Their specialness entitles them to be indulged and deferred to.

They lack empathy and are unwilling to identify with the feelings and needs of others. Though politicians claim to care and express a desire to help their voters, they usually vote along party lines. This is far more beneficial to their careers then to the electorate. Promises made during campaigns are often forgotten once they get into office.

They are envious of others or believe others are envious of them. People often envy the travel, meeting of important people and power politicians seem to have. They want to be envied. They like being envied.

They display arrogant, haughty behaviors. Certainly the sexual activities eventually revealed would be an example of this. Another would be the refusal to leave office even after crimes have been revealed. They may have been ‘bad’ but they still deserve a place of power and esteem.


Great…a Communist-Tutored, Racist Hate Spewing Pastor-Mentored, Islamist Extremist-Sympathizing Narcissistic Socialist running the greatest / most powerful nation in the world [email protected] on destroying it, just like his Anti-Colonialist Daddy wanted…

easyt65 on January 28, 2014 at 11:15 AM

…and not 1 politician in Washington with the cahonies or ethics and morals to adhere to their oaths of office to do anything about it…

Will the last American ut bring the flag?!

easyt65 on January 28, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Nothing he’s passed in five years has worked. Now he’s going to go it alone. This should work out well. When does this delusion becomes dangerous to the country?

RdLake on January 28, 2014 at 12:33 PM

RdLake on January 28, 2014 at 12:33 PM

If he REALLY wanted anything to get done he would call for the immediate removal of Harry Reid as Senate Leader….the TRUTH is Reid is doing exactly what he is supposed to…causing a total block in Congress which gives Obama the opportunity to blame the GOP and rule by Executive Order.

easyt65 on January 28, 2014 at 12:43 PM

This is exactly why I say let it burn. Because the problem with this country is its electorate, and reshaping an electorate is the work of generations. We–by which I mean the entire country at large–abandoned the major levers of society to liberals, who rebuilt the media, academia, and pop culture in their own image and from there shaped the thinking of at least two generations of voters. The only way to undo it is for conservatives to wrestle control of the media, pop culture, and academia back, or for liberalism to fail publicly, catastrophically, and inexcusably. Neither of those things are going to happen anytime soon. I have doubts that even Obamacare’s fiery demise will pull it off.

So let it burn. This is not the country I and my family have fought for over the last few centuries. The sooner it collapses, the better.

Zoomie on January 28, 2014 at 12:52 PM

He won the election by around 51.

So why is this news?

TX-96 on January 28, 2014 at 4:53 PM