Obama's muscle threatens liberty

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The brief platform skirmish at the Democratic National Convention won't get the same media play as Clint Eastwood's comic turn in Tampa, of course, but in the recent history of revealing political moments, the Dems' kerfuffle is one wicked "tell."

It demonstrates how far the party's ideologues are from the American public and how willing its leaders are to subvert the democratic process in pursuit of a political goal.

In fact, it condenses the dominant theme of Barack Obama's presidency into one convenient little nutshell.

The Republicans have their own problem with squashing dissent -- more about that later -- but they hope to use the Dems' episode in campaign ads for Mitt Romney.

If effectively done, such an appeal could galvanize the Republican base ("The Dems booed God and Jerusalem!"), further dispirit (along with the latest dismal jobs report) the Democratic base, and peel off votes in states like Florida and Ohio, where Jews and conservative Christians, respectively, can tip the electoral scale.

A tight race is won by such increments, thus Mr. Obama's actions.

Prior to their convention, the Dems' 2012 platform began attracting attention for failing to mention God and to identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

When the GOP moved to exploit these omissions, the ever-pragmatic Mr. Obama asked for an amendment to restore God and Jerusalem to the party platform.

So Wednesday night Ted Strickland -- chairman of the platform-drafting committee, former governor of swing state Ohio and an ordained Methodist minister -- asked delegates to suspend the rules to allow an amendment. After their clear assent, he explained the proposed changes and made the motion, with a growing clamor behind him.

When Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles and convention chairman, called for a vote, chaos ensued. Shocked by the no-votes' strength, the mayor called for a second and then a third vote.

Between the latter two votes, a female parliamentarian can be heard telling him, "You've got to rule, and then you gotta let them do what they're gonna do."

And that's just how this presidency gets things done: by fiat.

Rather than take a roll-call vote and risk a protracted episode that could culminate in a loss, Mr. Villaraigosa simply announced that the ayes had won.

The booing began, but to no avail.

Such steam-rolling is the hallmark of the Obama administration. Leftists who caterwauled about the "imperial presidency" of George W. Bush are remarkably silent now that their party's leader is responsible.

As Kimberly Strassel of The Wall Street Journal noted, Mr. Bush's "aggressive reading of executive authority was limited to the area where presidents are at their core power -- the commander-in-chief function."

Although Mr. Obama did initiate military action in Libya without consulting Congress, his imperialism has mostly emerged in the domestic sphere, where it ought, constitutionally, to be most restrained.

No one had read 2009's health care law (unlike the 2012 convention platform amendments), and its passage was not bipartisan (all Republicans and some Democrats opposed it), but at least Mr. Obama worked with Congress to push through his signature legislation.

That effort ensured the Democrats' unprecedented 2010 electoral rebuke; since then, the president has had to achieve his domestic agenda by other means.

When Congress refused to enact the DREAM Act, he issued an executive order instructing the Justice Department not to enforce U.S. immigration law.

When Congress wouldn't pass pro-union "card check" legislation or "net neutrality" Internet regulations, Mr. Obama did it through federal agencies.

When his views on same-sex marriage "evolved," he instructed the Justice Department not to defend it in court.

And so on. His campaign slogan -- "Forward" -- should more honestly be "Forward, march!" That's the approach distilled into last week's brief platform fight.

The Republicans' nay-votes-be-damned moment came when House Majority leader John Boehner forced through a new rule that will prevent delegates in 2016 from voting their conscience -- or even from being secure in their election. It's troublesome, but it's about party discipline, not policy content.

As for the Democrats' platform policies -- does anyone really care whether they think our potential is God-given? It's much more alarming that they don't believe that our human rights are God-given.

Like Wilson, FDR and LBJ before him, Mr. Obama believes that the government gives us our rights in exchange for power. Making a majority of us dependent on government -- for food, housing, retirement or health care -- is essential to the grand progressive plan. We're not quite there yet.

Mr. Obama, his wife assures us, needs four more years, and he'll be done. So will the American Experiment in liberty -- unless, as in 2010, we register our protest at the polls.


Ruth Ann Dailey: ruthanndailey@hotmail.com.


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