Did you know that not listening to George Will makes you a more informed viewer? It's true. It's quite a cushy job for someone: show up on TV week after week to offer forth your part of the national dialog and never, EVER be accountable for being wrong. Ah...the privilege of being George Will.
So with the heavy baggage of repercussions for not being accurate or correct kindly lifted off him, Will can wax ahistorically to his partisan heart's content. In a roundtable discussion of the Constitution and how it has evolved over the last two hundred plus years, George Will sees an opportunity to get yet another partisan slam in on that Other currently occupying the White House.
Because, you see, George Will thinks that all this discussion about the Constitution is Barack Obama's fault. Not because he makes all those privileged white tea partiers uncomfortable about their latent racism, but because he has made an unprecedented (UNPRECEDENTED, I tell you!) overreach of presidential powers, as evidenced by the mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
- We've just had yet another federal court uphold the mandate as constitutional;
- The Congress wrote the ACA bill with the mandate, not the President. If anything, Obama was far too hands off in the bill process because he had perhaps over-internalized the errors made by the Clinton White House of having Hillary shepherd the process away from Congress, causing the Congress to torpedo the bill in an effort to put the Executive Branch in its place.
- The concept of the mandate was actually one first put out by Republicans. Specifically, Bob Dole suggested an individual mandate in his counter-proposal to Hillarycare, Mitt Romney had it as part of Romneycare in Massachusetts and during the ACA debates in 2009, no less than John McCain, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Bob Bennett, Tommy Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Scott Brown, and Judd Gregg supported mandates before they were against them.
And please, as Time Magazine's Rick Stengel so rightfully puts Will's ahistorical revisionism in its place, Barack Obama is guilty of overreach? Dude, six words for you: George Bush, Dick Cheney, Unitary Executive. There is no other president who better exemplifies presidential overreach than the co-presidency of George W. Bush/Dick Cheney.
Ironically, like Stengel argues, there are absolutely areas in which we can hold Obama responsible for pushing the boundaries of his presidential authority (Libya, anyone?), but in this particular case, it's just another example of George Will being wrong. Again.