Death throes of a presidency

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

President Barack Obama is leaving office in the same way he governed for most of his tenure — in a classless spasm of petulant partisanship. Despite the fact that he was graciously welcomed to the White House with a smooth and inclusive transition by his predecessor, President George W. Bush, Obama is determined to frustrate President-elect Donald Trump at every turn.

Since the election of Trump, Obama has been on a spree of executive actions designed to ram through as much of his leftist ideology as possible. He has escalated his effort to undermine the law by commuting the sentences of another 232 federal inmates and outright pardoned another 78 convicts. Most of these folks were rightly convicted, but Obama disagrees with the laws under which they were convicted.

Obama has also been rapidly filling the bureaucracy with loyal leftists. Since Election Day, he has appointed more than 100 people to senior civil service jobs in everything from the Amtrak Board of Directors to key oversight panels.

Last-minute commutations and appointments by a lame-duck president are relatively common and have happened since President John Adams rammed through judicial appointments on his last day in office (including the famous William Marbury of Marbury v. Madison fame). Where Obama is showing his extremism is in unilaterally making sweeping changes to American domestic and foreign policies.

After 7 and 11/12 years of letting Russia kick him all over the globe, Obama chose now to poke the bear by expelling diplomats and imposing sanctions for allegedly meddling in our election. Irrespective of the validity or effectiveness of Obama’s actions, his decision to act now and let Trump deal with the consequences is appalling. There was no reason that America could not wait three weeks for the incoming administration to evaluate and enact a response to Russia, if necessary. There is no impending event that demanded immediate action. The only reason Obama acted now was to create political minefields for the incoming president.

Obama also reversed decades of American policy by stabbing our ally Israel in the back. The U.S. had long protected Israel from the anti-Semitic actions of the United Nations by vetoing anti-Israel resolutions. Obama abstained and allowed the U.N. to pass a sanction condemning Israel for their settlements and then sent out his Secretary of State, John Kerry, to issue a long-winded nonsensical justification for the betrayal. Obama’s action has laid a foundation for decades of attacks on Israel by people who cannot bear to see a democratic Jewish state exist in the Middle East.

Over the objections of local officials and residents, Obama unilaterally declared 1.65 million acres of Utah and Nevada to be national monuments, thus making it off limits to private development and resource exploration. In an admission that his action is unpopular and unjustified, Obama is already claiming that Trump could not legally reverse his declaration. It is un-American to think that a president would be given unilateral and arbitrary authority to perpetually wall off vast swaths of American land. Nowhere do we allow a single man that much power in our Republic.

Not to be restricted to terrestrial matters, Obama also unilaterally enacted an indefinite ban on drilling for vast swaths of the Artic and Atlantic Oceans. It is another swipe to try to shore up Obama’s radical environmentalist legacy for the sake of his ego while kneecapping our economy one more time before retiring to the lavish existence our presidents have come to expect. Once again, Obama and his lawyers are already insisting that the law does not allow future presidents to reverse his decision, and once again, nothing is more hateful to Americans than the notion of an omnipotent potentate issuing eternal decrees.

The silver lining is that the cause for Obama’s reckless and destructive behavior is that his tenure is coming to an end. Before the month comes to a close, Obama’s presidency will be over and we can begin to repair the damage.