President Obama's "We Can't Wait" campaign to bypass a gridlocked Congress does not demonstrate that he has changed his opinion on the separation of powers built into the Constitution -- it shows that his earlier complaints about Bush's use of executive power were completely disingenuous.

Many conservatives have denounced Mr. Obama's new approach. But William G. Howell, a University of Chicago political science professor and author of "Power Without Persuasion: The Politics of Direct Presidential Action," said Mr. Obama's use of executive power to advance domestic policies that could not pass Congress was not new historically. Still, he said, because of Mr. Obama's past as a critic of executive unilateralism, his transformation is remarkable.

"What is surprising is that he is coming around to responding to the incentives that are built into the institution of the presidency," Mr. Howell said. "Even someone who has studied the Constitution and holds it in high regard -- he, too, is going to exercise these unilateral powers because his long-term legacy and his standing in the polls crucially depend upon action." ...

The Obama administration started down this path soon after Republicans took over the House of Representatives last year. In February 2011, Mr. Obama directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages, against constitutional challenges. Previously, the administration had urged lawmakers to repeal it, but had defended their right to enact it.

So... President Obama decided to change his tune on executive power immediately after his party lost control of Congress. What a "remarkable" "transformation"!

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