Being a Washington Post opinion columnist must be a dream job if you’re a liberal. Simply wait by your email inbox until the White House sends out the day’s approved talking points, then simply move them around a bit, and add an unrelated anecdote. If you’re really adventurous like Ruth Marcus was today, toss in a meritless attack on conservatism, misstate history and facts, misrepresent other’s opinions and finish with some righteous indignation.
Ms. Marcus column at bottom is a claim that only the liberal notion of the Constitution, specifically as related to the government’s regulatory agencies, is the only notion consonant with the Constitution. Ms. Marcus writes:
Certainly, there’s a legitimate debate about the proper role of the federal government and the scope of federal vs. state power. But that is a different argument than the one long thought settled during the New Deal: that the Constitution grants the federal government power to regulate a broad array of activities in the national interest.
Ms. Marcus goes on to note that regulatory agencies must be just hunky-dory because other Republican luminaries such as Richard M. Nixon (the EPA) and George W. Bush (Medicare Part D Prescription Benefit) used agencies to cram down their will on the American public.
Ms. Marcus is correct that during the New Deal, the Supreme Court affirmed the government’s power to create regulatory agencies. Ms. Marcus is also correct that both Nixon and Bush 43 used federal power to regulate. Ms. Marcus leaves out a few key details, which ‘Puter is certain Ms. Marcus would chalk up to limited column inches. Here are a few of her omissions.
1. Her entire premise is based on the notion that regulatory agencies are a Constitutional use of federal legislative power. Unfortunately for her, such language is nowhere to be found in the Constitution, not even the one liberals apparently read from. There is no place in the Constitution where Congress is expressly granted authority to delegate its legislative power to unelected executive branch agencies. ‘Puter defies you to show him the language. And don’t even start with the Commerce Clause, ObamaCare lovers.
2. The notion that regulatory agencies are a Constitutional extension of Congressional power is judge-created doctrine, made up on the spot to support policy preferences. Kind of like “emanations from the penumbra,” but older. The seminal case for this judge-created devolution of Congressional power to executive agencies is West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379 (1937). The case is a direct result of a Supreme Court caving in to the demands of a benevolent (arguably) despot, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, because the Court’s conservative majority felt FDR’s court packing plan would be successful.
Ms. Marcus omits any impact of FDR’s illegal court packing plan, particularly insofar as it relates to the Court’s sudden about-face in this case. You see, the conservative wing of the Supreme Court had been beating back FDR’s overreach for years. FDR finally got sick of being told no, and with the help of a supine bunch of Congressional toadies, put forth a plan to add justices of FDR’s appointment to the court, thereby diluting out of the majority, his conservative nemeses. Sound familiar? Here’s how notoriously right wing PBS American Experience puts it:
On February 5, 1937, with little or no warning, FDR announced what would become known as his “court packing” plan. Citing the inability of the federal courts to deal with an overwhelming caseload, he proposed judicial reforms, including the addition of one justice to the Supreme Court for every one who did not retire by age 70-1/2, with a maximum five justices added.
It was an uncharacteristic political mistake for the usually astute Roosevelt. His plan to influence the Court provoked outrage nationwide. Many perceived it as an attempt to rig the American judiciary system and give the executive branch almost dictatorial power. In a public speech in March, Roosevelt managed to turn American opinion his way, but when the Supreme Court reported that it had no problem keeping up with its caseload, support for his plan declined.
As Roosevelt worked on behalf of his “court-packing” plan, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor several times, further weakening the President’s arguments for court reform. On March 29, the Court upheld a Washington State minimum wage law. In May, the Court upheld the Social Security Act. When Joseph Robinson, Roosevelt’s last significant ally in the court-packing scheme died in July, the plan died too.
Wow. Here’s how ‘Puter enviosions Ms. Marcus’ internal dialog on this topic.
“How could it possibly be relevant that the basis for the United States’ entire regulatory apparatus resulted from a Mafia-like strongarm play by a godlike benevolent dictator for life? My readers couldn’t possibly want to know any of that. I’ll just do their thinking for them. ::continues her selective editing::”
3. Bush 43 and Nixon are hardly conservative poster boys. Nixon favored wage and price controls, hallmarks of socialist governments. Bush 43 passed No Child Left Behind and the aforementioned Medicare Part D. Bush 43 also spent more money we didn’t have more quickly than any president in history until the ascension of The One to his rightful place. Bush 43 and Nixon are lots of things, but a linchpin for an argument that conservatives believe in a vast, intrusive liberal regulatory state they are not.
4. Most conservatives, despite what Ms. Marcus may believe, are not Hell-bent on destroying government. What conservatives want to accomplish is to have a government only so large as is needed, and only so powerful as is permitted by the Constitution. Of course, putting it that way doesn’t sell papers. It’s much more effective to run a piece claiming “ZOMG!!1! KKKONSERVATIVS IZ KILING YER GRAMMIES AND BEBBIES!1!! OH NOES!!1!eleventy! This is the liberal columnist version of “ZOMG!!1! GARDASIL IZ MEKKIN YER DOTTIRS RETARDZ!1!1!!!elev!!enty!1! Neither argument is (1) attractive or (2) effective.
Ms. Marcus hides her real argument: regulatory agencies are so long-established and interwoven into the government’s fabric, that questioning their basis in law is unconscionable, regardless of whether or not they are Constitutional. A perfectly practical, yet wrongheaded argument. How much simpler to simply put that forth, rather than muddying one’s effort with irrelevancies.
Unfortunately, the argument Ms. Marcus refuses to make may ultimately win the day. However, until very recently, liberals thought that only a moron would think that the Second Amendment protected an individual right. Plain language, historical analysis and an unpacked Supreme Court put the lie to this belief. Much the same, ObamaCare supporters believe that the individual mandate is Constitutional because the Commerce Clause is unlimited. Liberals may be surprised to find that there are, despite New Deal precedents, limits to Congressional authority under the Commerce Clause.
Ms. Marcus cherry picks facts and tells only the half of the story that supports her side of the argument. This is usual behavior for liberal columnists, but it doesn’t make it right. Or enlightening.
Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this.
’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies.
The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig.
His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred.
He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently.
Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet.
‘Puter suggests the Czar suck it.