Oath? What oath?

A great guest viewpoint by Henry Kramer in this morning's Ithaca Journal (not yet linked on the website—UPDATE: It's linked now.):

 
U.S. presidents take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, which provides in Article II, Section 3, that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The provision does not say “the president is ex­cused from executing laws with which the president disagrees,” or “the president may aid and abet violators of the laws,” or the presi­dent may bypass Congress and issue executive orders when Congress will not pass legislation the president desires.” When a president ignores that oath, he un­dermines the legitimacy of his power.
 
The current president did all three of those things. He refused to fully enforce immigration law. He encour­aged defense employers to ignore the provisions of federal law (WARN) protect­ing workers that require 60 days’ notice of mass layoffs and plant closures. He then further encouraged lawless behavior by announcing that our tax dollars will pay for violators’ defenses and fines they may incur by not giv­ing notices. He enacted by presidential directive legis­lation (Dream Act) he could not get through Congress and, by setting age param­eters for this program, he engaged in age-based dis­crimination.
 
The Constitution of the United States, one of the oldest in the world still func­tioning, is the “glue” that holds us together. Provided our duly elected leaders follow constitutional rules, they have the consent of the governed, even their oppo­nents. The Constitution has kept us together even in the closest presidential races, including Hayes-Tilden and Bush-Gore. Its one outright repudiation resulted in our fratricidal Civil War.
 
The wisdom of our foun­ders was to divide power and to provide checks and balances in order to limit government, not to empow­er it. Congress can seem ineffective, but it is still the main check we have on a runaway presidency. We may excuse Abraham Lin­coln for violating the Consti­tution to keep the nation intact, but we must condemn the view of presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama to whom the Constitution is merely an outdated charter of negative liberties.
 
When the Constitution is involved, the president’s policies aren’t the issue; it is the violation of the Constitu­tion that matters. Whether or not you favor the presi­dent’s objectives is irrele­vant. The precedents being set create a constitutionally dangerous, imperial presi­dency, one in which the chief executive is a dictator, unilaterally enacting laws by executive order rather than enforcing existing laws. The authors of those precedents today may well regret them tomorrow when the political winds shift and the power is held by those with a different vision.
 
The loss of liberty is not always a single discrete outrageous act. It is time for a new president who honors our Constitution.