When inexpensive energy is deemed a bigger threat than terrorist commanders

The longer he’s president, the fewer the checks and balances to which Barack Obama considers himself constrained.

Examples of the administration’s contempt for the strictures of the law forms a growing litany. From the decision to not enforce certain drug laws to the flagrant violations of its own insane health care law, the executive branch has indicated a willingness to move beyond simply picking winners and losers in the market place to picking winners and losers within federal statutes. And, of course, there’s the unnerving trend of using the various executive agencies to enact laws the president can’t get passed through Congress, the passé Supreme Court being so unreliable and slow at the task.

There are fresh examples. First, the Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed regulations on existing power plants, the goal being the same as the unworkable and convoluted cap-and-trade system that couldn’t pass muster in Congress — rid the nation of energy sources liberals don’t like, starting with coal.

These rules weren’t a surprise. We all knew they were coming back when the president admitted one of his daydreams involved shuttering coal-fired powered plants. Last fall, the EPA held a “listening tour” in advance of drawing up these regulations, a tour that studiously avoided places in the country that mine coal or possess a coal-fired generator, lest the bureaucratic listeners’ unimpeded ability to breath in such areas prove inconvenient to their draft.

National security issues always raise the bar, so this now-routine usurpation of congressional lawmaking powers was eclipsed by the exchange of five Taliban commanders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, done without required consultations with Congress.

This issue resists simplistic analysis. Certainly the exchange was done in violation of laws and established procedures that are there for a reason. Now, in matters of national security, as I have argued before, the commander-in-chief has a built-in degree of latitude, observed since the earliest days of the Republic, and rightly so. What is so chafing isn’t necessarily that the president exercised this discretion, but that he makes a habit of it while lacking the experience (or competent advice) to justify his doing so. One can accept a bit of executive initiative on military matters from Dwight Eisenhower, JFK or GHW Bush, owing to their personal experience, or from Nixon, Reagan, or Bush the Younger because they had knowledgeable people advising them. (Arguable? Maybe. But I’ll take the opinions of Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice over John Kerry and Susan Rice any day, thank you very much.)

There is also, of course, the issue of Bergdahl himself. It’s pretty evident that at the very least he deserted his post and his comrades in wartime, an offense the magnitude of which is not lost on any who have served in uniform, especially in a combat. There is quite understandable disgust at the notion the U.S. would turn five of the most monstrous terrorist wolves loose on the world for this character.

One can understand the impulse to retrieve any American serviceman from the clutches of the enemy — even if he needs to hang, he’s ours to hang, damn it. But as perspective, consider how the overwhelming majority of American POWs in North Vietnam steadfastly refused any special arrangement in exchange for early release, despite the most hideous treatment imaginable.
The point is not really in the details of the exchange, many of which remain unknown. The point is the whole affair was conducted in a manner that exposes, reiteratively, the exceptionally poor judgment of the Obama administration, born of an ideologically tendentious misreading of the world scene and a lack of experience at the top that would be comical if not so consequential.

Radicalism, in all its forms, rejects experience, tradition and the institutions that grow from them, including the western notions of ordered liberty and the rule of law. That’s why Obama liberals feel no compulsion to respect history, traditional restraints or laws that interfere with their designs. Similarly, it’s why we see at a local level radical sheriff candidates, both libertarian and liberal, who trade experience in law enforcement for fealty to ACLU fanaticism, rising to oppose an experienced, conservative cop for the position.

Ladies and gentlemen, experience and respect for history, tradition and institution matter. I shudder to contemplate what ideologically motivated inexperience could mean at the local law enforcement level, given that at the federal level it has resulted in a culture that considers inexpensive energy and mining towns a greater threat than hardened terrorist leaders.

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