Bill Murchison

This isn't exactly a new topic, I regret to say.

For weeks there's been national conversation -- and the requisite component of shouting -- over the Obama White House's determination to stream the legislative music of its choice. Other people's choices? Those of the states, say, or even of Congress? Sorry, the president can't hear a word you're saying. He's rocking to his own beat.

Over just the last couple of days came two more instances of lofty Obaman disdain for others' views. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder led the way, pushing the federal government toward authoritative affirmation of a question the White House evidently believes to be settled -- to wit, whether gay marriage should be the law of the whole land.

As if in accompaniment, the Homeland Security and State departments undertook to redefine what Congress had supposed it meant in blocking the admission of terror supporters to the United States.

Well, you know -- the president promised in his State of the Union address to put his particular spin on circumstances through ordering particular things to happen, things Congress could not be coaxed into doing. We are accordingly to expect more and more executive orders and directives -- the czars called them ukases -- putting flesh, insofar as the White House can get by with it, on Obaman intentions.

The president's apologists argue that presidents have always issued such orders, as indeed they have, rarely, however, with the intention of sprinting ahead of legislative intent and the will of the people. Hamilton, in No. 70 of the Federalist Papers, argued that "Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government." An executive, all the same, executes; he doesn't legislate. He doesn't, as a rule, seek to short-circuit popular deliberations as expressed in laws.

Let us consider what our president is up to here. He wishes to affirm what he identifies as the right of gay people to wed. He has said so. But the country hasn't. As 2014 began, 17 states and the District of Columbia agreed, legislatively or under judicial coercion, with Obama. This meant the rest of the country -- 33 states, two thirds of the whole -- dissented, preferring to emphasize the historically normative understanding of marriage as the joining of man and woman.

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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