Alex Massie

The Limits of Presidential Power

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Writing in the FT yesterday Martin Wolf observed:

It is extraordinary that a popular new president, confronting a once-in-80-years’ economic crisis, has let Congress shape the outcome.


Obama could easily have used his electoral mandate to impose his will upon the House Democrats when the bill was crafted; instead he let them cobble together a malodorous mess of every left-liberal pet project and constituency gimme.


One of the greatest faults of the Bush years was that when the White House snapped its fingers congressional Republicans came running and did what they were told (not always, to be sure, but more often than not nonetheless),. Doubtless there will be times when Obama seeks to dominate Congress but, in general and certainly constitutionally, it would be a good thing if he didn't. That is not, after all, his job. And, yes, I know that Presidential restraint is not in keeping with the temper of the times and there's no hope of a modern-day Coolidge. But still...

UPDATE: Mind you, it's also possible that Obama isn't "inposing" his view on Congress because, having spent time working with Democrats, he's pretty much ok with the bill that has emerged. He is, after all, a Democrat.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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