The best part of this clip is the lefties sharing it on Twitter and exchanging virtual high-fives over it, as if they didn’t thrill to Obama sticking it to the do-nothing GOP Congress every time he concluded that what America needed is more power in the executive branch. Here’s how St. Barack answered a question in 2013 about his decision to delay implementation of the employer mandate in ObamaCare even though federal law required it to take effect on a certain date:
[W]here Congress is unwilling to act, I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people.
And if Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case. But there’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don’t think that’s a secret. But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions — very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.
I am concerned about the folks who I spoke to today who are working really hard, are trying to figure out how they can send their kids to college, are trying to make sure that they can save for their retirement. And if I can take steps on their behalf, then I’m going to do so. And I would hope that more and more of Congress will say, you know what, since that’s our primary focus, we’re willing to work with you to advance those ideals. But I’m not just going to sit back if the only message from some of these folks is no on everything, and sit around and twiddle my thumbs for the next 1,200 days.
If there’s something useful he wants to do and Congress is being a pain in the ass about cooperating with him on it, well, then, he’s going to do it and not worry too much about the constitutional particulars. That was the rationale for his executive amnesties too, just as it was the rationale for him going to war in Libya even though his own Justice Department concluded that he lacked statutory authority to do so. If the cause is good enough, he can stretch his reading of Article II to find authority to take up that cause. (In fact, he arrived at the conclusion that he had the power to implement DACA only after years of having insisted that he lacked such power.) The point of Napolitano’s spiel about separation of powers here is that Trump’s actions are part of a decades-long drift towards autocracy, not some novel norm-busting innovation of which he’s uniquely guilty. Judge Nap’s lefty friends are missing that point, just as they’ll forget all about it in January 2021 if a Democrat is sworn in.
And of course Napolitano’s right to condemn the trend. He’s emphatically not in the “because Obama got to do it, Trump should get to do it too” camp. He’s an actual libertarian, not a pretender like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and other tea-party alums whose objections to power grabs by a president from their own party are either whisper-quiet or don’t exist at all.
Exit question: How many of these commentaries does Napolitano need to do before Trump gives him a derisive nickname? He’s accusing POTUS of breaking the law at a rate of about once every four days now. I wonder how long it’ll be until Fox punts him over to MSNBC due to a viewer backlash.