Under our modern “imperial Presidency” model, far too much authority is attributed to the holder of that office. We would do well to remember the axiom “Power perceived, is power achieved.”
Nobody knows and has embraced this fact more than the current occupant of the White House. Unfortunately everyone’s played right along, from the willing media toadies to the incoming Speaker of the House (“… the President sets the agenda…”) to, well, the rest of us.
As an example, take the recent reports that “Obama has reversed himself and decided NOT to allow offshore oil exploration along the East coast.” The announcement spawned the expected glee from the enviro-wackos, and the snipes and hand-wringing from those on the “drill here, drill now” side praising or damning President Obama.
But exactly how does a President and his administration control exploration for oil on public lands? How does a dope like Interior Secretary Ken Salazar step in and, with a single memo, kneecap America’s energy independence?
The answer is: They don’t. They can’t.
They are only actors mouthing lines actually written by… Congress. All the Executive Branch’s administrative agencies do so.
The key word in that sentence is “administrative,” as in Executive Branch agencies only administer laws written by Congress. Of course, in doing so they also interpret them to the liking of the current head of the Executive Branch. But no Executive Branch agency can legally countermand those laws (that truly WOULD be an “Imperial Presidency.”)
Back to the recent offshore ban: if Congress were to pass a law specifically authorizing offshore drilling exploration, then Mr. Obama and Mr. Salazar would have to allow it.
The point is that, as with so many issues, Congress is all too willing to hide behind the President on this one. No American should believe that the country has given sole authority to Obama or anyone else when it comes to deciding our energy future.
In fact, according to the Constitution, our President is 1) the person empowered “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties”; 2) the “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States”; 3) the nominator of “Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States”; and 4) the grantor of “Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States.”
That’s it. That’s all. The rest is authority handed to him by Congress. We tend to forget that fact.
If we want the offshore exploration ban lifted, it can be accomplished if we point the voters’ authority toward the right branch of government.