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Jamie Stiehm
Past and Present
14 Nov 2014
Civil War Comes to Washington Again

Arctic air is on its way to Washington, they say. But we feel it blowing now. It's here under the Capitol Dome,… Read More.

7 Nov 2014
The March of Wartimes

2014. 1814. 1864. 1914. Veterans Day and England's Armistice Day fall on the 11th day of the 11th month, when … Read More.

31 Oct 2014
A Thank-You Note for Vaccines, Polio and Ebola, Past and Present

Aptly, it's the 100th birthday of Dr. Jonas Salk, who famously developed the polio vaccine in the mid-20th century,… Read More.

Obama's Presidential Power Goes Beyond Congress


If President Obama is acting like Julius Caeser over immigration reform, well, there are worse models for governing a republic.

What I mean is, it's refreshing to see the president doing good for the world with the power he has. Even if he must act alone in asserting his authority. I expect this bold action to be a blueprint for the time Obama has left in office. In style and substance, this will play to his strengths.

Let's face it, Barack Obama has always been a solo artist in his short but storied political career. He's not a team player, nor one to shoot the breeze with other pols about their district projects. A brilliant campaigner, yes, because the stage lights and the crowds were all in for one man: Obama. Governing is messy and takes many hands on deck to come to a clearing or a compromise.

Going it alone is the best fit for his temperament. It's time we Americans accept that Obama is the rare bird in politics whom Carl Jung would call an introvert. He likes his own counsel and company.

In fact, the climate deal struck with China, in face-to-face diplomacy during his recent Asia visit, shows a strategic awakening in the Oval. The shift lies in realizing his power does not depend on the whims of Congress.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has rebuffed every Obama's overture. So his game is not likely to change. The incoming Senate Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is more clever and crafty than Boehner, and more formidable as a naysayer to a president he vowed to see fail.

So, on the contrary when it comes to Congress, the president's power comes from the people who elected him, twice. That is democracy at its purest grassroots.

Aside from the pressing need to shed sunlight on immigrant struggles, including "dreamer" children, Obama urgently had to act to show people he still counts as a political player. Since 2012, his presidency has been in a torpor.

Now and then he has given the impression of crossing out or counting the days until Jan. 20, 2017. His response during the ISIS and Ebola scares was lukewarm at best.

In issuing an executive order to spare millions of immigrants from deportation, Obama took matters into his own hands and did something serious on his own initiative. Yes, it's is out of character for his caution, and has many Republicans in the Capitol howling at the moon. Fuming floor speeches refer to the move as "unconstitutional." How dare he do an "amnesty" without us?

Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., often in the center of the buzz, told reporters the American people favor the reform, but do not approve of Obama taking executive action. Whatever. We know there's no love lost between McCain and the younger man who slew him in 2008.

Like it or not, that's the direction Obama is going in his fourth quarter, after an absolutely scoreless third quarter of his presidency. Facing the cold winds of a new Republican-dominated Congress in January, the president is playing a different game already.

There's also a softer sentiment floating in the halls: "Finally, thank goodness Obama acted." Senate Democratic leaders, who shepherded a bipartisan immigration bill to passage in 2013, saw fruition after waiting long months for the House to vote. (Speaker John Boehner refused to bring it up.)

Here's the thing: Obama almost has no other choice but to cut loose from what they call "regular order" in the Senate. For there is no such thing anymore, not in the Senate, and not in the House. There are no giants in the Senate, and many gnomes in the House. If Obama has few true friends and allies in Congress, he will have even fewer next year.

Look for more of this when it comes to the Keystone XL Pipeline, which failed by one vote to reach the required benchmark of 60 in the Senate. In 2015, Obama may look Congress in the eye and say, no way, to what may be an interstate environmental hazard.

For Obama is, after all, president of the United States. The people of Rome loved Caesar, remember; it was the senators who brought him down.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm, and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit



1 Comments | Post Comment
Flip this scenario around. Lets say a republican president used an EO to boot 5 million immigrants out of the country. Would Jamie be saying "I disagree with this, but it was within his power". Of course not. She would be calling his a tyrant, and an a hole, and all sorts of nasty names. This is a huge double standard and hypocracy in its purest form.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:01 AM
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