The media backlash across the ideological spectrum in response to the president’s lawless, interminable changes in Obamacare is matched by a similar disgust among voters when it comes to President Obama’s unilateralism.
In the latest Fox News poll, respondents were asked if they think the president’s declaration that he will “take action to advance his policy goals with or without Congress” and “use executive orders to get around Congress” is the way government “is supposed to work.” An overwhelming majority, 74 percent to 23 percent, said no. Even more remarkable, Democrats (by a 54 percent to 40 percent margin) and liberals (by a 56 percent to 39 percent margin) said no.
Asked their opinion, regardless of whether the system is supposed to work that way, of “Obama going around Congress and using executive orders,” voters disapproved, 60 percent to 37 percent. Now Dems support this, by a margin of 66 percent to 31 percent. Independents, however, disapprove, 66 percent to 30 percent.
All of this suggests that voters overwhelmingly recoil against the idea of the president sidestepping Congress, although Dems will stick by him for doing so (!), perhaps because they blame those stubborn Republicans for not going along with Obama’s agenda. In any case, the issue appears to be a potent one with voters in generally and with the GOP base specifically that will turn out strongly, one suspects, in November.
Taking a step back for a moment, the president’s governance by whim is indicative of his disdain for the give-and-take of politics and for governance more generally. He cannot bestir himself to glad-hand and schmooze with pols; he then complains he cannot get Republicans to bend his way. When things go badly — when he governs badly — he whines that “no one is more frustrated” or “no one is madder” than he, as if some other president has fouled up. He gathers around himself political flunkies to regurgitate his spin. The recent embarrassment over grossly unqualified ambassadorial appointments is a small, visible example, but is Chuck Hagel any more fit for office? (His spokesman unbelievably says that “being a donor to the president’s campaign does not guarantee you a job in the administration, but it does not prevent you from getting one”; it sure does help get ignorant ones plum posts, however.) No one begrudges the president putting trusted friends or even donors in high places; what is problematic is that he seems to know only inept ones.
The president, as unpopular as it is, resorts to unilateral measures and selects lackeys for high offices because, he has told us, he knows the most of anyone in the room anyway. But then, it seems, he can’t be bothered to do the nitty-gritty work of legislating, running the bureaucracy and working with adversaries. All that is left is to imperiously do it his way — and bellyache about how rotten the government is. About the latter, few will argue.