Eras­ing Obama’s frag­ile legacy

The Week (US) - - 12 News - David Harsanyi


Pres­i­dent Obama’s pol­icy legacy has proven re­mark­ably easy for Repub­li­cans to de­mol­ish, said David Harsanyi. Pres­i­dent Trump had lit­tle trou­ble pulling out of the Iran nu­clear deal be­cause it “hinged on pres­i­den­tial fiat rather than na­tional con­sen­sus.” Knowing that he could never get an ac­tual treaty through a di­vided Se­nate, Obama im­ple­mented a non­bind­ing com­mit­ment that his suc­ces­sor could eas­ily re­verse. He used the same strat­egy for the Paris cli­mate agree­ment, which Congress never ap­proved. When his im­mi­gra­tion pro­pos­als bogged down in Congress, Obama again cir­cum­vented the Con­sti­tu­tion, and cre­ated the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram as “a tem­po­rary stop­gap mea­sure.” By that he meant “until Democrats can make it per­ma­nent through the courts or elec­toral vic­to­ries.” Time and again, Obama jus­ti­fied uni­lat­eral ex­ec­u­tive ac­tions by say­ing that Congress had failed to “do its job.” But Congress did do its job “by check­ing the pres­i­dent’s am­bi­tions”—which is why Amer­i­cans elected Re­pub­li­can ma­jori­ties. The fact that Obama’s legacy is un­rav­el­ing so quickly “tells us that Amer­i­can gover­nance still works.” If Trump re­lies on uni­lat­eral power grabs, his agenda will be dis­man­tled, too. “That’s as it should be.”

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