- The Washington Times - Friday, June 17, 2011

House Republicans are calling on President Obama to re-sign the Patriot Act extension bill - this time, by hand. Last month, Mr. Obama became the first Oval Office occupant in history to delegate to a machine his constitutional responsibility of signing legislation because he happened to be in France when the bill was enrolled. On Friday, Rep. Tom Graves, Georgia Republican, and 20 other Republican members dispatched a letter asking Mr. Obama to put his John Hancock on the national-security law.

The GOP congressmen think the use of an autopen risks opening courtroom challenges to the statute. “The president’s casual approach to this fundamental duty has likely created a legal minefield for the Patriot Act,” Mr. Graves told The Washington Times. “Setting the legal aspect aside for a moment, I think the American people deserve to have the laws of this land personally signed into law because it’s a sign of respect, and it symbolizes the president’s responsibility for and his full engagement in the process of governing.”

Mr. Obama has in fact been governing by virtual autopen for the past two-and-a-half years. He legislates through executive orders and has unelected agency heads and czars implement controversial programs too hot for Congress to enact. He uses recess appointments to install appointees so radical that they can’t get through the confirmation process of a Senate controlled by his own party.

Every presidential statement is so carefully scripted that Mr. Obama depends on his teleprompter even when speaking to grade schoolers. He wages war in Libya without asking Congress for authority. For a time, he stopped holding daily National Economic Council meetings as the economy further tanked. He spends five hours on the golf course almost every weekend.

The only way the autopen president could be further disengaged would be if he phoned it in from a beach in the Caribbean.

The White House was not available to respond to a request for comment on this issue.

The GOP members behind the letter seek a commitment from Mr. Obama that he will sign all future bills by hand. The country needs a president who respects his constitutional authority and matches his work ethic to the expectations of Americans. If he can’t even be bothered to handwrite his name to a law, then the next paper he signs ought to be the letter he leaves in the Oval Office for the new president in 2013.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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