Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We've Seen This All Before

Before the Election of 2008, I predicted that we would not be electing the next Ronald Reagan--as some of the news channel talking heads were promoting--but rather that we would be electing the next Jimmy Carter, regardless of who won between Barrack Obama and John McCain.  And for the most part, President Obama has done a good job of proving me correct: prolonged unemployment, deterioration of America's industrial base, high gas and energy prices and a lowering of the US status as a global superpower.  The only thing we are missing as we head into the 2012 elections is a hostage crisis.

But what I couldn't foresee was that President Obama would think that he is actually the next Andrew Jackson.  Presidential scholars consider the Jackson to have expanded the powers of the Presidency through executive actions more than any Commander in Chief before or since.

Jackson single-handedly brought down the Second Bank of the United States.  He initially revoked the Bank's charter through veto--but Congress was able to override it.  So "Old Hickory" just waited until Congress went into its summer recess and then he withdrew all of the Treasury's funds from the bank and put it into private institutions around the country--basically bankrupting the Bank of the US and putting it out of business.  (Which is why I find it ironic that Jackson is featured on the 20-dollar bill to this day.)

Jackson also put the US Supreme Court in its place as well.  After the US purchased Florida from the Spanish, Americans poured into the new territory to grab up any and all available land.  When local Indian tribes refused to give up their settlements, President Jackson issued a Federal order forcing them to be relocated to the Indian Territory (now known as Oklahoma).  Rather than take up arms against the Whites, the Five Tribes took the Federal Government to court--claiming that Jackson had overstepped his authority in ordering their ouster.  The US Supreme Court ultimately sided with the Tribes and allowed them to stay.

Jackson directly disobeyed that ruling, sending in Federal troops to force out the Tribes and issuing his famous statement: "(Chief Justice) John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!"  What ensued was the infamous "Trail of Tears" disaster--where tens of thousands of Tribe members died during their forced relocation.  It was the most egregious abuse of Presidential power until another Democrat--Franklin Roosevelt--ordered the roundup and internment of Japanese-Americans in the early days of World War II.

So Republicans--and Democrats like Jimmy Carter (oh the irony!) and Russ Feingold--decrying President Obama operating outside the realm of the Constitution need to keep in mind:  it could be (slightly) worse.

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