Bill Murchison
Remind me -- what was the college course Barack Obama used to teach? Constitutional law? Or was it "Machiavelli for Beginners"? If it was the former, did it cover the American system of checks and balances and separation of powers? Did it dip, however briefly, into the dangers that the founding fathers wished to forfend, such as accumulation of unchecked power in a single governmental branch? Or in a single man?

If the course taught by the future President Obama tended to evade such considerations, and instead to emphasize princecraft, the art of prevarication and the hidden dagger -- yeah, it shows; more and more dismayingly all the time.

Semi-buried in the White House's fiscal-cliff-avoidance offer to the Republicans last week was a pernicious proposal giving him executive authority to raise the debt ceiling without consent of Congress. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell reportedly laughed at the proposal as a whole. He might better have wept. A president bent on usurpation is in the end no laughing matter.

Obama, who seems to see himself as God's gift to the American people, has a track record here. He rammed Obamacare through Congress without a single Republican vote or concession to his critics. He brushes off (and the mainstream media generally lets him get by with brushing off) intellectual and philosophical pushback. He draws himself up, acts offended, goes back to saying the things he was saying previously, as with the current debate over taxing "millionaires and billionaires" versus addressing the problem of gross overspending by the federal government. It's hard, is it not, to argue with a man who's always right?

Now, the debt ceiling ploy. Obama won't get from a Republican House of Representatives --though our Democratic Senate is another matter -- the authority he proposes to wield In Behalf of Us All. Maybe he sees the proposal as a throwaway line - catnip for people he doesn't like or trust to begin with. Why, in any case, allow him power he presently lacks to decide how much money the country can borrow, subject only to explicit veto by Congress (a doubtful prospect indeed when your party leaders line up behind you, zombie-like, in preference to admitting that Republicans might find something intelligent to say)?

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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