Going back to the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama was reluctant to embrace the use of the signing statement as a show of executive authority as former President George W. Bush did in some circumstances as needed.
But fast-forward nearly three years later and it’s apparent now-President Barack Obama realizes that in some circumstances, such legal maneuvers are necessary, especially as it pertains to Guantanamo Bay detainees and the recent limits placed on his power on handling these detainees. And according to Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, so-called “change” that was supposed to come hasn’t.
“And to show us that hypocrisy in politics is such a wonderful thing because it means you’ve grown up and you’ve stopped just taking cheap shots from the outside,” Krauthammer said on Tuesday’s “Special Report with Bret Baier.” “You notice that sign near Obama saying change? Well on this stuff, the change has not come,” Krauthammer said. “The Patriot Act the Democrats said was trashing the Constitution was upheld by the Democrats. Rendition trashing the Constitution, and then you had the Democrats as we heard Obama attacking the Bush administration on the signing statements, again were encroaching on the powers of the Congress? And also, for president as Obama said in that clip, ‘accumulating the power of the presidency to transfer prisoners,’ etc. – well, all of that now is stuff that Obama himself is doing.”
Krauthammer explained that despite cries from the left protesting Obama’s likely use of the signing statement, overall this shows that Democrats agree with Republicans and that the prior rhetoric was no more that political talking points.
“Why? Because he’s commander-in-chief,” he continued. “He’s in charge of safety and lives of Americans and he understands that Bush did exactly what a commander-in-chief ought to do. So now the argument is over. Democrats agree with Bush and Republicans that the president should have extensive powers in how he deals with the prisoners of war. I think he is right on that. I agree with the policy of not transferring prisoners into the U.S.”
However, rather than disparage Obama for what could be viewed as hypocrisy, Krauthammer praised the president for showing a willingness to make the correct call.
“But I also think that the president has the power to do it, ought to have it as the commander-in-chief in time of war,” Krauthammer said. “And it looks as if Democrats also agree that a president has the right to do a signing statement, in which it isn’t end of run-around for Congress but his expression of his approval of what is in the bill and that’ perfectly OK. We have with the rotation of power is the exposing of hypocrisy but also the establishment of the national consensus on important stuff and on this, we now have it.”