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High Noon? Dana Milbank, Ted Cruz and “Lawlessness” in Washington

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Over the last two weeks Dana Milbank, the resident liberal gadfly and jeerer at conservatives, of the Washington Post, has found himself in high dudgeon at the so-called Republican reign of “lawlessness” in national politics. He has written a number of pieces touching on this and his other usual points. Milbank charged that the GOP Tea Party base is populated by illiterate ignoramuses. There is nothing new for Milbank, here. Certainly, he sees himself as a certified member of the highbrow intelligentsia and harbors a low estimate of conservatives generally, and Tea Party Republicans particularly. In a remarkable concession, Milbank did note that Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican and Tea Party favorite, gave a speech to a Tea Party gathering last week “…packed with elegant turns of phrases…”, although he cheekily noted that “…these sailed right over the heads of his listeners.” Milbank noted that Cruz “appeals to the conservative mind” in a nod to Russell Kirk’s classic 1953 study of conservatism by that name. Unfortunately, Milbank then undid his graciousness by stating that while Cruz appeals to the conservative mind, “… (Donald) Trump appeals to the conservative gut. And at least in this stage in the GOP primary campaign, the gut is winning”.


Milbank later recanted his heresy, namely admitting that Senator Cruz is a very smart cookie, by writing during the same week that Cruz is “…downright alarming”, “tyrannical”, and, most memorably of all, he is “lawless.” Milbank charges that Cruz is a nullifier of the John C. Calhoun school and a closet Orval Faubus hoping for his moment in the sun. What is the overt act committed by Cruz, that has elicited this overwrought prose? It is the fact that the Senator declared that he stood with Kim Davis, the minor Kentucky official, who has refused to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples, defying the SCOTUS decision of last June. Milbank trashes Cruz for urging county officials to ignore the law, for refusing to abide by his own oath of office, and for rousing the conservative rabble to a fever pitch over a bogus issue. The purpose of this column is neither to lead cheers for Cruz, nor to evaluate the merits of the Kim Davis case. The purpose is, however, to consider who, among modern politicians, is really the lawless one and why Milbank, and the Washington Post will not see the truth.

Milbank and the editorial board at the Post form a part of the rooting section for the most shameless, and indeed the most lawless demagogue of modern times. That is, of course, President Barack Obama. The president has openly ignored the constitution by illegally spending monies, rewriting duly approved legislation, selectively enforcing federal laws, ordering investigations of political opponents, and spying on the citizenry of this and other countries. When caught red-handed he has shrugged his shoulders and dared the opposition to try to do anything about his illegal deeds. The Washington Post and the rest of the dwindling numbers of Obama acolytes cheer his every move, and Dana Milbank usually leads the way.


When President Obama took office in 2009 he immediately dropped a clue to what he intended when he endorsed the vast new spending “stimulus”, which totaled $862 billion and was funded outside of the ordinary budgetary appropriations process. When Republican members of Congress questioned the correctness of these actions, the president responded with his now-infamous response, “I won.” The president had hinted that he would engage in such overreach when, during the campaign, he said many times that he wanted to be a transformational president, and this was proof positive of what he had in mind.

In 2010 we saw, of course, Obamacare, which has been the greatest mistake since Ford Motor Company gave the world the Edsel. The Administration really knew little of what their plan required, what it was supposed to accomplish, or how it fulfilled its mandates. They told the public that it was not a tax, but hung their hats on this dubious distinction in order to avoid a Supreme Court overturn of the bill. During the 2011-13 introductory period of the plan we remember Obama delaying mandates, rewriting key provisions, enforcing or not enforcing parts of the plan at his own will, and blithely ignoring the fact that a president is supposed to execute the laws passed by Congress, as the Congress intended. The mere fact that Obamacare turned out to be a mess which raised costs, cancelled the health insurance of millions, and will only get worse is simply a slight inconvenience to a president who governs at whim.


As the calendar turned to 2011 and 2012 we can remember Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder announcing that they would no longer enforce the 1996 bill, commonly known as the Defense of Marriage Act. The act, which had passed both houses of Congress and had been signed into law by President Clinton stated that marriage was the union of one man and one woman, and that no other union could, for legal purposes, be defined as a “marriage”. Obama and Holder, noting the manufactured shift in public opinion concerning the issue, and fearing the enmity of the gay lobby simply announced that they would no longer defend the act in court, and looked forward to the day when the US Supreme Court would throw DOMA onto the scrap heap, which they did, in June of this year. The announcement that a presidential administration would openly refuse to enforce a duly enacted federal law was unprecedented, but the public paid little notice, and the mainstream media was enthralled at the courage of their champion, Barack the Lion-Hearted.

Obama, emboldened by his re-election victory in 2012, threatened to make unilateral changes to the Second Amendment, especially after the ghastly events in Connecticut that December. So far there has been no movement on this issue, but the president has had many opportunities to issue rhetorical spankings to his favorite target, the National Rifle Association. It is entirely possible that, during his lame duck period next year, he might issue a far reaching executive order on this issue, and insist that it is “settled law.”


After a bad electoral drubbing in 2014, much like the “shellacking” Obama admitted his party suffered in 2010, the president laid low for a couple of weeks, but then hinted that he would impose sweeping changes through executive orders and creative use of presidential powers. This announcement that he now considered himself an autocrat with czarist powers troubled no one at the Washington Post, certainly not Dana Milbank, who opined that it was about time that Obama took off the gloves and rumbled with his enemies. In the 2013-15 epoch we saw the DREAM Act and the spectacle of a president defying congressional will on immigration questions. We saw another violation of congressional will with Obama unilaterally restoring relations with Cuba. Now, we see Obama saying that a treaty with Iran is not a treaty, and needs only 1/3 of the Senate to vote with him in order to make this the law of the land. Where are Milbank and the rest of the liberal cheering section? Do we remember the outrage of the Left at the largely overblown charges lobbed at George W. Bush and Dick Cheney back in 2001-2009? It seems it is only a matter of whose ox is being gored.

We have not mentioned Lois Lerner, Kathleen Sibelius, Benghazi, the Fast and Furious scandal, and other abuses of power too numerous to mention. Nor have we touched upon the subject of a president who routinely takes the side of rioters and looters and admonishes police that they must be more politically correct when dealing with such miscreants. Finally, we have the Wall Street Journal reporting last week that Obama administration officials were recently in Charleston, S. C. scouting the old Charleston Navy Yard as a possible detention place for the remaining Guantanamo prisoners, after Obama uses his executive power to close the place down, probably after the 2016 election. Don’t bet that such a thing won’t happen.


Still, in the face of so many outrages, Dana Milbank and the Washington Post editorial board accuse Senator Ted Cruz of being “lawless,” while their man Czar Barack shreds the constitution, and defies critics to stop him. Sensible people worry over this situation, while Obama thumbs his nose and Dana Milbank jeers and says that he wishes Obama would do more and do it faster.

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