When the Obama administration suddenly announced that it was delaying the dreaded employer mandate, a chief component of ObamaCare, your first reaction may have been a sigh of relief. After all, it's a job killing requirement.
Your second reaction, I hope, was to be aghast at this latest exercise in raw and unilateral power. We don’t yet know if the president has the legal right to change this law, given the way the law is written. There is considerable debate over this. Some think it is almost tyrannical but others say that, while bold, it is within the sphere of presidential prerogative.
It has not been the tradition in our humble democracy for presidents to unilaterally change our laws. If not fully weighed and opposed if necessary, this latest power grab, if it turns out to be illegal, signals a change in the way our laws and government operate. If the president gets by with illegally changing the law, and there is a very good chance that he will, given the administration’s habit of not budging when challenged, we aren’t the same republic we used to be.
Forget the imperial presidency, which was once the rallying cry for those who thought a particular president too powerful. Some of the Obama administration’s appropriations of power are evidence that we’ve entered a new phase: the royal presidency. We are seeing a sea change in the presidency, a new kind of government, as manifested in both the style, with all the lavish trappings—or should I say trippings?—of office now almost taken for granted and also in the substantive acts of the Obama presidency.
When President Obama said, as a candidate, that he was going to transform the United States, whodathunk his personal role model in this process would be Louis Quatorze? President Obama also seems to have borrowed heavily from the early and medieval English kings who regarded dealing with those upstarts in Parliament as a bummer.
Five years into Obama's tenure, we have seen a lot of arrogance. When, for example, the President blathered on about (with regard to Benghazi) how our diplomats around the world personally represent him, Barack Obama, during one of the presidential debates, it was crystal clear to the historically-minded that POTUS was getting in touch with his inner Louis XIV (“L’etat c’est moi”).
Most American presidents don’t talk like that because they know that, though his administration appoints diplomats, they are actually representing the country. Grandiosity, alas, isn't the only thing the President has in common with the Sun King.