Obama's problems have not slowed down his agenda; he's speeding it up

Other politicians would slow down when their public approval starts to plummet, but President Obama is getting more aggressive with his agenda instead. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, November 25, 2013 — Scandals and embarrassments don’t slow down President Obama like they would other politicians. Instead, Obama is speeding-up his effort to re-shape America to match his vision.

His collapsing support in national polls has shortened the time that Obama has to act. Just as a football team uses a hurry-up offense when time is short, Obama goes with bold and high-risk efforts. Unlike a football team, Obama gets the rules changed to help him win.


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Democratic Senators have given Obama the power to behave even more dictatorially than he has already. Changing the Senate rules was crucial to approving Obama’s appointments for key positions:

  • to make rules and regulations through the executive branch, by-passing Congress

  • to have those rules and regulations upheld by Obama appointees in the courts

  • to control key positions even after Obama leaves office (like Janet Yellen to run the Federal Reserve and lifetime federal judges)

  • to protect Obama’s veil of secrecy from threats, such as by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said he would block nominees until witnesses were made available on the Benghazi terrorist attack

The Senate rules change is not the only sign of Obama’s hurry-up offense, however:

  • The White House readily took the heat for its blatant political move of extending an Obamacare deadline so people won’t get more premium “sticker shock” until just after next year’s elections. As Congressman Steve Stockman, R-Texas, tweeted, “Just a few weeks ago even suggesting moving Obamacare deadlines was ‘arson’ and ‘terrorism.’ Now it’s White House policy.”

  • Last week Obama couldn’t spare three hours to go to Gettysburg for the national commemoration of Lincoln’s great speech. “Too busy” making sure the Obamacare website got fixed. This week the President is off for a three-day fund-raising trip on the West Coast.

  • Obama has also been reaching out and encouraging activists to engage in demonstrations for his pro-amnesty immigration reform as well as for Obamacare.


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So far, the Senate rule change is the most dramatic act that allows Obama to press his agenda while he can, at the same time embedding his people in key positions to influence America’s course long after his term.

That’s why Obama personally lobbied Senators to change filibuster rules. The White House won’t confirm who were the final three Senators that Obama won over, nor what may have been offered to them. The change was made to benefit Obama, not the Democrat majority in the Senate. Obama needed the endless talk of changing the rules to result in action before his window of opportunity slammed shut. Now his nominees need only 50 votes (since Vice-President Joe Biden can break any ties) for approval, not 60. The 45 Republican Senators can be disregarded.

The impact is bigger than the power to appoint. All the talk about impact on future presidents and on the culture of the Senate is elitist chatter to a community organizer like Obama. It’s now that counts, to create a widening ripple effect that becomes harder for Obama’s successor to reverse. The Democratic senators gave Obama the tool for bypassing the entire Congress on a host of matters. Obama can have federal agencies issue edicts and expect his newly-appointed judges to uphold them. Only a narrowly-divided Supreme Court could block those, the same court that did not block Obamacare.

The Senate did not change the 60-vote standard for Supreme Court nominees — yet. But nothing could stop Democrats from helping Obama by lowering that to a 50-vote margin if a vacancy occurred.


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Obama now expects to get his three nominees (Robert Wilkins, Cornelia Pillard, and Patricia Ann Millet) approved immediately for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has jurisdiction over most appeals involving federal rules and regulations. That gives Obama appointees control of that all-important court, whose rulings can be reversed only by the Supreme Court. It’s his protection for the aggressive regulatory agenda that is on its way from Obama’s executive branch.

Obama appointees will saturate America with stringent new environmental restrictions, requirements to make bad loans to the “under-privileged,” dictates to hire people regardless of criminal records, gender identity rules on schools and businesses, more social engineering, and plenty more that is being overshadowed for now by the attention given to the Obamacare mess.

Undoing the damage done by Obama’s fast-tracked appointees may be as tricky as undoing Obamacare. Once millions of pre-existing individual policies have been cancelled, and soon millions more of pre-existing group policies are cancelled, how can they be brought back? Once millions of people rely on Obamacare subsidies and expanded Medicaid, how can it be taken away?

The public realization of Obama’s deceptions is only an opportunity; not a reversal. As Winston Churchill once explained, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. “

We should not be fooled by efforts to create an image of a president who is chastened and humbled by the blunders of Obamacare. Some conservatives are celebrating as though Obama’s agenda is toast. They should know better. The tenacity of Obama and his loyalists is immense.

Obama’s loyal bureaucrats are hard at work. He is organizing his community for his next wave: rallying activists, urging the left to launch protests, and hoping to catch everyone else off-guard. The rest of us would like to relax during the holidays. It would be a bad mistake to expect that Obama’s people will.


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Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook spent 25 years in public office, including 14 years in Congress. He was rated one of the top 25 conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then was a Heritage Foundation fellow and a fellow at Harvard's Insitute of Politics, where he led a study group on Propaganda in American Politics Today. 

Now as a radio host and a commentator, Ernest aims to expose Washington's gimmicks--to help you avoid the pitfalls. He brings clarity out of the confusion. 

Native to Texas, Ernest transplanted to Oklahoma after graduating from Baylor University.

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