'Barack Obama is really the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be.'
That quote above is not from some right wing nutcase. It's from liberal law professor Jonathan Turley, a familiar face on cable news nets and a reliable voice for liberals on a wide variety of issues.
In this exchange with Sean Hannity, Turley excoriates the administration and bemoans the concentration of power in the executive under Obama:
SEAN HANNITY: We do have co-equal branches of government, separation of powers. You teach this regularly. You agree with the president politically. For you to say we are at a tipping point constitutionally -- now, I agree with you. What does that mean considering our constitution is our rule of law and they are ignoring it?
JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, unfortunately our system is changing, and it's changing without a debate. Or even a discussion about what we're going to do in the future when we have a three branch system, a tripartite system but one branch is so dominant. What's emerging is an imperial presidency, an uber presidency as I've called it, where the president can act unilaterally. This is only the latest example of that.
What's troubling is that we have a system that has been stable precisely because these are limited and shared powers. This president has indicated that he's just not willing to comply with some of those aspects. He told Congress he would go it alone and in our system you're not allowed to go it alone.
SEAN HANNITY: If I broke the law, why do I think they would be the first people to hand kickoff me, perp walk me and send me off to jail. This is just my belief system. Paranoia or truth?
JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, I think that the biggest problem we have is that the system itself, if we have a dominant branch, simply begins to shut down in terms of the safeguards. People don't seem to understand that the separation of powers is not about the power of these branches, it's there to protect individual liberty, it's there to protect us from the concentration of power. That's what is occurring here. You know, I've said it before, Barack Obama is really the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be. You know, he's been allowed to act unilaterally in a way that we've fought for decades.
The presidency is such an ill-defined office that you almost have to depend on the occupant to limit himself in the powers he exercises. This was tradition and precedent at work for 220 years. There were exceptions - Lincoln, FDR, and Nixon come to mind as presidents who vastly expanded their own powers at the expense of Congress and the courts. But generally, there was a respect for constitutional limits on presidential activism by most chief executives.
Turley is saying that Obama believes he has no limits to his power and is making the executive the dominant branch of government. What that holds for the future is frightening to contemplate as administration lies and extra-constitutional actions threaten the very stability of government.
A Congress in the hands of Republicans would only accelerate Obama's power grabs. It may be that the courts - the Supreme Court - is the only branch of government that can check this president's appetite for control.