Friday, June 15, 2012

President Obama and the Power of Incumbency

As Republicans salivate over the prospect of retaking the Presidency and the Senate, they should not underestimate the power of incumbency.

The prime goal of this Administration is reelection, at any cost. President Obama’s reelection campaign is based in Chicago. Hence, Chicago Rules apply. The Obama Administration is using every inch of the President’s incumbency to the fullest.

The first is in campaign costs. The President gets to fly Air Force One from fundraiser to fundraiser at highly discounted charges, such that the tax payers cover most of the expenses. California today, New York tomorrow, Chicago in a few days, San Francisco and Los Angeles in one day, Minneapolis, Seattle, the list goes on. It’s legal, and follows in the shoes of his predecessors, but he’s well past 160 reelection fundraisers, over twice that of President Bush in 2004.

Second is the power of the President to raise campaign funds. President Obama hopes to raise $1 billion for his reelection campaign.

Third is the ability to control the agenda. The President has made lowering interest rates on student loans an objective, thereby appealing to the youth vote.

Fourth is the selective leaking of information favorable to the President, such as the intelligence leaks on the secret operations to cripple Iran’s nuclear operations and the Abbottabad Raid to take down Osama Bin Laden. Of course, if the President
authorizes the information to be released, then is it technically a leak?

Fifth is the power of Cabinet officials to issue directives tailored to constituencies favorable to the Administration. The intent is to rally the base. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sibelius, issued the order requiring the Catholic Church, directly or indirectly, to provide free contraception in its health insurance policies.

Earlier today Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued an order which to a substantial extent adopts the Dream Act for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children. The need to reform our immigration laws is clear, but whether or not the Executive Branch has the power to do so unilaterally by agency directive or Presidential Executive Order is questionable. Congress had rejected the Dream Act so the Administration stepped in to curry favor with Hispanics.

Sixth is the power of the President to make decisions specifically focused on critical constituencies, such as the President’s veto of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to the United States. Regardless of the cost to the United States, he took a stand for the environmentalists.

Seventh is the power of the Attorney General to selectively prosecute cases on behalf of the United States. Thus, AG Eric Holder has filed suit against Florida and other states to prevent them from enforcing their voter ID laws. The states legitimate goal in preventing voter fraud has been approved by the Supreme Court, but that hasn’t prevented the AG from bringing suits which the government will ultimately lose, but probably not until after the November election.

As Bette Davis said “Fasten your seat belt; it’s going to be an exciting night.”

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