Childhood and The President — I will do what I want.

Growing up, I was always in trouble.  Whenever mom or dad would tell me to do something I would announce my intention to either do the thing or not do the thing.  I not only announced my intention but would announce it with attitude.   They always knew where I stood and should I refuse to do what they asked I would get into big trouble.   Often a power struggle ensued.  As a kid however, you have no power so I lost most if not all of those battles.

My brother however had a different strategy.  Whenever he was told to do something he would just agree to do it.  Now before you think he was being compliant and obedient, note that verbal agreement is not action.   He would agree whether or not he had any intention of carrying out the task.   Often the request itself would get lost to time and the task would never be completed.   The result was that there were almost no power struggles between him and my parents.  His approach seldom resulted in conflict.    

Most of us would say that if you agree to something then you should do that thing.  Whole philosophies are built on that concept.  The basis of honor, honesty, commitment and contracts are all based on the concept that someone’s word can be depended upon.  For me, the convenience of just agreeing never sat very well.   I did not see commitment as a fuzzy concept.  To his credit, as my brother got older he was one of the most dependable people I ever knew.   His word was something you could depend with absolute assurance.  He was still incredible at maintaining peace, but did so with a commitment to his word.  Not so, President Obama.

Our president has demonstrated much the same approach to commitment as did my brother as a child.  Saying what is expedient to get the most mileage has become one of his trademarks.  It is as if his intentions or words of the moment are reality and we are supposed to believe that reality from moment to moment.   Of course he said that, “If you like your insurance you can keep it.”  He knows it was false, but it was what he wanted people to believe.  My brother wanted my parents to believe that he would do his chores.  He did not want to do the chores only to convince them of his good intentions.   My brother, unlike President Obama grew up to be a man of his word and the “I will do what I want philosophy” no longer dominated his actions. 

Unfortunately, the “I will do what I want” approach to governing is not a good model for a democratic society.  Recently Obama announced that he would double gas mileage standards by 2024 and save each person $8,000 per year.    Whether or not there was any science to make that promise was not relevant. Whether or not it is possible was not relevant.  The announcement also assumed that he knows what the price of gas will be in 10 years.  The only basis he had for the announcement is that it is something he wants.  Sadly, most of the news goes along with announcing this without ever challenging the announcement’s factual underpinnings.   According to the President, his announcing the thing is the same as its becoming reality.  Facts do not matter.

With the Healthcare law and immigration law the President has told the nation what parts of the law were valid and what parts were not valid even when those decrees were completely antithetical to the actual wording of the law.  The penalties that are part of not complying with the law as written are still due even if the President decided not to “implement” them.  Beyond the fact that he has no actual power to change a law that is already passed, just because he says that he is changing the law does not actually change it.  Those that cross our borders and live here without going through formal channels are still illegal aliens under the law.   The President can call it what he likes and violate his oath of office by not enforcing the law, but they are still illegal under the law. 

Just like with my brother, If Mom and Dad did not come back to him and challenged him on the fact that he did not do as he said he would, then he would never have done what was expected.  If Congress does not go back to the President and force him to follow the constitution he will continue to do what he wants with no check on his power.  He has been clear in action and deed that this is an “I will do what I want.” presidency.  Perhaps, while a child is learning responsibility, a short venture into the ”I will do what I want lifestyle”,  it is not so bad.  It is also what you would expect of a dictator.  It is not a good approach for the democratically elected leader of the United States.  

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