Disgraced. An embarrassment. Utter disregard for the law.
Toronto’s crack mayor Rob Ford?
No. President Obama.
This is a man who was granted the extraordinary luxury of attending one of the most prestigious universities in the world. He went to law school. He told us he was an expert on constitutional law. He taught students about the U.S. Constitution.
He is now our president and fills a rather large role in executing that Constitution.
And it is as if he has never read the actual Constitution. Or, as if he read it and found it all so confusing that he simply could not comprehend one of the most basic tenets of it — that the legislature writes laws, which then go to the president for either his signature or veto.
Presidents do not get to write laws. They do not get to ignore laws they do not like or make up new ones on a whim.
Presidents do not get to refuse to negotiate with Congress on financial matters because the president doesn’t like what Congress has been urgently instructed to do by voters. He doesn’t get to make end runs around Congress.
The previous administration felt so constrained by this immutable precept of the Constitution that administration lawyers took advantage of confusing parts of laws passed by Congress and wrote their own understanding of what those gray areas meant — obviously tilted as much in their favor as possible.
Democrats in Congress and the left howled in horror at this reach outside of the Constitution for tiny little scraps of power — even though presidents ever since James Monroe have used this power.
Democrats held hearings about the unchecked abuse of power and warned of a sinister “unitary executive” secretly thwarting Congress and trashing the Constitution.
Whatever you thought of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney’s “signing statements,” you would have to agree that the constitutionality of them was, at the very least, debatable. Their legality was not a slam dunk either way.
But do you know what is not debatable? What is not debatable is whether Mr. Obama can take a properly passed law such as the Defense of Marriage Act, and simply refuse to enforce it. He is not allowed to wave his hand and determine that millions of illegal immigrants now in the U.S. are suddenly legal.
Nor is he allowed to single-handedly gut hard-fought welfare reform laws that were constitutionally enacted by a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democratic president.
Mr. Obama has skirted, trampled and violated the Constitution so many times that it will be hard for any future president not to simply agree that doing so has now become precedent.
He has already rewritten the health care law so many times that it has become commonplace. Is there no aspect of that law — or any law — that he does not believe a president can simply rewrite?
And it is completely without shame that he has repeatedly violated the Constitution, even when the courts strike him down such as they did over his refusal to get Senate approval for his nominations. It is as if he read the Constitution, studied it and even taught it. But, in the end, determined that it only applied to other presidents. Not him.
OK, so the drunken rages of Toronto’s Mr. Ford have been entertaining. Clearly, smoking crack should not be condoned and it is certainly illegal. But whatever damage he is doing to the mayoralty of Toronto will probably pass on with him and the circus will be over.
What Mr. Obama is doing is not funny and cannot be undone. The mockery he is making of one of the greatest documents for human freedom in history cannot be erased.
If he moves on, all future presidents will be left with a new precedent and a map to unchecked tyranny.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter at @charleshurt.