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BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Great Destroyer’
Question of the Day
Democrats like to talk about a “war on women.” In syndicated columnist and New York Times best-selling author David Limbaugh’s telling, Barack Obama is a president at war. Not in Afghanistan (though he is) or Libya (though he was). Mr. Limbaugh’s new book, “The Great Destroyer,” chronicles what its author describes as a “war on the republic.”
Don’t let the martial rhetoric - which from the war on poverty to the war on drugs is hardly rare in American political polemics - fool you. Mr. Limbaugh is a lawyer by trade who builds a thorough case against the president. Taking on a new target in each chapter, the book lives up to its title by slowly dismantling Mr. Obama’s economic, social and foreign policies until there isn’t much left.
Mr. Limbaugh devotes substantial space to the president’s massive spending and deficits. “In his budget battles,Obama consistently masquerades as a deficit hawk even as he resists budget cuts and demands more spending,” he writes.
Indeed, it took 200 years for the total federal budget to reach $1 trillion. Under the current president’s watch, $1 trillion annual deficits have become the norm. Left on autopilot, Washington’s spending will soon exceed the percentage of the economy necessary to pay for the New Deal or win World War II.
Mr. Limbaugh contrasts the president’s fiscal vision with that of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. He writes that Mr. Ryan’s plan results in $5.3 trillion less spending and $3 trillion in cumulative deficit reduction over the next decade.
But Mr. Obama’s vision of government doesn’t just produce big numbers on a balance sheet. It is too big for our Constitution. Where generations of liberals have achieved policy goals through the courts ignoring the Constitution while pretending to venerate it as a “living” document, Mr. Obama at times seems impatient with its constraints on federal power.
On immigration, the president once told a crowd that he wished he had a “magic wand” to summon amnesty into existence in spite of congressional resistance. On issues ranging from health care reform to raising the debt ceiling, Mr. Obama has lamented the broken nature of our political system. But separation of powers is a design feature, not a flaw.
The president isn’t the first progressive to become impatient with constitutionally limited government, but he is perhaps the most explicit. “What I’m gonna do is wait for Congress,” Mr. Obama told “60 Minutes,” as quoted in “The Great Destroyer.” “But when Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.”
“Them” refers to the people’s elected representatives, who have more constitutionally enumerated powers than any other branch of the federal government.
Politicians get frustrated and blow off steam. They are also given to hyperbole. Yet this has gone beyond rhetoric. This administration has implemented the Dream Act, thrice rejected by Congress, via executive fiat. Economic czars have proliferated. General Motors has become “Government Motors.” Solyndra has become a model for spreading crony capitalism under the guise of green energy.
Criticize any of this and the self-styled guardians of civility in the Obamasphere will start hurling invective. In a chapter titled “The War on the Right,” Mr. Limbaugh shows the party of tolerance regularly accusing political opponents of everything from racism to sheer idiocy. Mr. Obama himself is no stranger to such indelicate tactics. One charming vignette has the president accusing congressional Republicans of wanting to “pay the Chinese, but not seniors.”
Under Mr. Obama’s watch, we have seen the erosion of conscience protections for religious believers - even those who originally supported the president’s signature health care initiative - and gun-walking into the hands of Mexican cartels. The talk of transparency has given way to the reality of unaccountability.
It’s all in Mr. Limbaugh’s book, from Operation Fast and Furious to the administration’s insistence on unfettered access to abortion on demand. The president is portrayed as apologetic to America’s enemies and unsupportive of her just national interests. It’s here in virtually encyclopedic detail.
This is both the book’s best attribute and its only shortcoming. In his effort to provide readers with one-stop-shopping to discover the Obama administration’s myriad failures and foibles, sometimes Mr. Limbaugh doesn’t distinguish mortal and venal sins. Some dumb presidential statements made in the heat of political battle are forgivable; bankrupting the country in pursuit of re-election is not. Digging up those sins, however, may be the biggest shovel-ready project of the Obama era.
W. James Antle III is associate editor of the American Spectator.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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