When the letter from the Dean of the University of Denver College of Law arrived in 1973 informing me that I’d been accepted to law school, I was ecstatic. The letter began, “Welcome to the Denver legal community.” I sensed that my life was about to change to something entirely new, that I was being given an opportunity to become a member of a profession dedicated to something I deeply believed in — that all people are created equal with the God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Rights that are inherent in all human beings and guaranteed by the Rule of Law. The legal profession, I thought, was the watchdog and the guarantor of the Rule of Law, that thing which any decent society must have for liberty to exist.
Youthful naivete and idealism will always give way to time and experience. With a few years of law practice under my belt I faced the reality that activist judges don’t really care about the Rule of Law because if they did it would prevent them from making up new rules by personal whim. The Rule of Law embodies the principle that everyone stands equal before the law. It means that you cannot park next to a No Parking sign even if you have friends on the City Council. Perhaps the most important principle of the Rule of Law is that government, whether by politicians or judges, cannot make up new rules to punish its enemies and reward its cronies. Government must follow due process of law and new legislation must be enacted by the people’s representatives in elected legislatures.
Because The Rule of Law imposes restraints some judges and ensconced bureaucrats view it is not as something to be revered but as a hinderance they must find a way around.
Even in my youthful exuberance I never trusted politicians. I always new that for the most part few politicians care a whit for any such thing as a rule of law. Before Obama I didn’t view that as a threat to liberty because the legal profession, or at least the judicial branch of it, was there to right the wrongs, curb the political excesses and slap down the political miscreants who crossed the line. Obama changes all that. The terrible knowledge that the entrusted watchdogs have joined with Obama to use their position for assistance to a gangster government rather than to uphold the law, is a game changer.
“Gangster government,” is a term first coined by Michael Barone in a May, 2009 Washington Examiner column,after Obama engineered the Chrysler bailout which cheated bondholders out of their investment in order to reward the Untied Auto Workers Union. Mr. Barone detailed the transaction that screwed bondholders and concluded this way: “We have just seen an episode of Gangster Government. It is likely to be part of a continuing series.”
Barone’s prediction was right on the mark. He has detailed the continuing series is subsequent articles in the Washington Examiner, all collected here.
The latest, Obama Skirts Rule of Law to Reward Pals, Punish Foes, concerns Obama’s granting of waivers, through his lackey Kathleen Sibelius, from enforcement of the provisions of Obamacare. Mr. Barone concludes this way:
In a Univision radio interview during the 2010 election cycle, Barack Obama urged Latinos not “to sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re going to reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.’ “
Punishing enemies and rewarding friends — politics Chicago style — seems to be the unifying principle that helps explain the Obamacare waivers, the NLRB action against Boeing and the IRS’ gift-tax assault on 501(c)(4) donors.
They look like examples of crony capitalism, bailout favoritism and gangster government.
One thing they don’t look like is the rule of law.
David Freddoso borrows the term gangster government for the title of his excellent new book detailing episode after episode of Obama’s habit of using his presidency to reward friends and punish enemies. In the foreword of this book Michael Barone stated two reasons why he predicted at the end of his May, 2009 column that gangster government would become a continuing series. The first is the unprecedented appetite for crony capitalism in the Obama administration. The second reason, Barone writes:
…that this administration seems unusually inclined toward gangster government is the philosophy of its leader. When asked what he looked for when choosing a nominee for the Supreme Court, Barack Obama said he wanted “someone who understands justice is not just about some abstract legal theory, “ but someone who has “empathy.” In other works, judges should decide cases so that the right people win, not according to the rule of law.
We now have Chicago style politics firmly enstablished in the White House. We can only hope that in 2012 the American people will say they don’t want another four years of it.