CBS' 60 Minutes aired an interview with President Obama on Sunday. I confess, I have not had the...heart?...stomach?...enough duct tape to prevent cranial explosion? to watch the interview in its entirety. I had my TV on far more than usual this weekend, though, and found myself inundated with the seemingly obligatory rehashes by every political talking head on cable news. I saw more clips of the interview, or so it seemed, than would tally up to an entire hour by the time the weekend was over.
While there were a number of "whoppers" coming out of the clips from the interview, I had a "favorite". It certainly caught me the very first time I saw it, but, no matter, had I missed it, I could have caught it during one of its many times running. The clip was accompanied by a text label something very close to, "President recognizes the Presidency is about more than just legislating". Each time a string of the President's interview clips ran, there was follow-up analysis by of one of the many available "political strategists", media personalities, or former politicians. Unfortunately, none of the rehashing by pundits pointed out the true substance of the problem associated with that "favorite" clip of mine.
To repeat, the President said he's realized his job is "about more than just legislating".
Hmmm. The last time I checked my copy of the Constitution of the United States of America, it seemed as if it said that the United States Congress was the legislative branch. Just in case I might be somehow mistaken, I pulled it out (Barack Obama did teach Constitutional law at one time). And what do you know? Article I Section I states:
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
It seems to me that our President had a job just previous to the one he holds now that was all about legislating. If he wanted to continue to legislate, he could have remained in the United States Senate. Meanwhile, however, since he is not now in the Senate, it might be helpful to himself and the rest of the country if he were to figure out just what his job as President actually entails.
First of all, it's called the Executive Branch. The list of duties aren't hard to find; the job description can be found in two fairly brief paragraphs under Article II, Sections 2 and 3 of the U.S. Constitution (Sections 1 and 4 actually pertain to the manner in which the President and Vice-President are elected and / or removed from office). While he's reading, he might want to read the rest of the document; I'm told when printed out on 8 1/2" x 11" paper, its just 12 pages. Not long. Worth the read.
While the history education provided to me by the public schools where I grew up in Iowa was admittedly quite poor, even I knew a bit about the three branches of government well before I deliberately began working to improve my history education. I could recite, from memory after some point in elementary school the three branches of government and their general duties; the legislative branch makes the law, the executive branch enforces it, and the judicial branch interprets it. After two decades of reading many books about history and our government, those basic descriptions seem generally serviceable, still. In my mind's eye, I can see the same chart now that I saw over thirty years ago. It's similar to the one I've embedded here. Apparently the President needs to have someone send him one of these things.
While the apparent sarcasm here may be amusing, I'm not really laughing.
One of the primary goals of Progressivism has long been a transformation of the Presidency into a more powerful executive. Following that, the growth of the administrative state and weakening the powers of Congress were key. Having a President of the United States note that "the Presidency is about more than just legislating" is unsettling. But it's not surprising coming from our current president. What continues to surprise me, however, is a media - whether it markets itself as left or right wing - that either intentionally or unintentionally helps the man out in furthering this agenda by repeating such glaring errors over and over again without any effort to challenge or correct them.