Change You Can Believe In?

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on December 2, 2014

The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at WSJ written by the editor, James Taranto.

Change You Can Believe In?
Byron York of the Washington Examiner notes that President Obama experienced an awkward moment last Tuesday, during a Chicago speech on immigration:

When protesters began yelling at Obama to stop all deportations, the president became frustrated and answered: “There have been significant numbers of deportations. That’s true. But what you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took action to change the law.”

Of course Obama cannot “change the law” except by signing a bill approved by Congress. As we noted Tuesday, his action is legal only if it does not constitute, in the words of a Supreme Court ruling, “ ‘. . . a general policy’ that is so extreme as to amount to an abdication of [the executive branch’s] statutory responsibilities” to enforce the law.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel asserted that it was not, a questionable claim the administration may have to defend in court. Obama’s Chicago comment probably won’t be admissible as legal evidence, but it does demonstrate the double game he is playing—portraying the action as a change in the law for political purposes but a mere exercise of discretion for legal ones.

A Senator’s Skill Set
Elizabeth Drew of the New York Review of Books ponders the firing of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who she argues was ill-suited for the job to begin with:

While I had come to admire Hagel as a thoughtful man, there’s a question of whether anyone can make the leap from a senator’s office—with an average staff size of 34 people, to the Pentagon, the world’s largest institution, which employs about 26,000 personnel on site, plus about a half million overseas, plus an active military of about 1.5 million men and women. In general, transitions from Capitol Hill to a cabinet office, in either party, haven’t been markedly successful. The Pentagon has been a sinkhole of failures.

Well, William Cohen made that leap in 1997. Still, Drew has a point in noting that senators don’t gain much administrative experience. Yet lots of them aspire to be not just cabinet members but president. We shudder to think what would happen if one of them were elected.

[The excerpts above are from the Nov. 28 BOTW Archives.] For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”