I have this much authority.

Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republicans Keep Fighting Phony Presidential Abuse

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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I love Kevin Drum’s post on the latest Republican complaint about Barack Obama: that he influenced the Federal Communications Commission on net neutrality. Horrors!

Oh, wait: What they’re calling an abuse is the normal function of the presidency.

I'm trying to remember all the ordinary presidential (and congressional) actions that Republicans have tried to turn into scandals. In reverse order, here’s what I have -- and this isn’t even counting the claims that Obama’s use of the veto is unprecedented because he’s planning to veto the Keystone XL bill: 

5. Presidential influence on executive-branch agencies (see above).

4. Recess appointments (once common, now basically read out of the Constitution by the Supreme Court).

3. Flexibility on carrying out legislation.

2. Reconciliation (that’s on the congressional side, of course).

1. Czars!

I’m sure I’m missing some. Anyone remember other examples?

Has Obama sometimes arguably overstepped his authority? Probably. He may have even extended it further than other presidents. I'm not really seeing any important extensions of presidential authority, but that's not really what I'm saying here anyway.

What I am saying is that Republicans have used apocalyptic rhetoric to mount a series of attacks on Obama for exercising the powers of his office in perfectly ordinary ways.

Look, we need the out party to be tough on the White House. That’s part of how the system works. But instead, Republicans have spent most of the last six years reacting to fantasies, and ignoring their obligation to do the hard work of finding real abuses. It really is a disgrace.

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To contact the author of this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net