Incredible arrogance

By Charles Bloomer
web posted December 20, 1999

In an amazing statement that reeks of arrogance and disrespect, the Clinton administration announced that it is prepared to circumvent the constitution and ignore Congress to put more gun restrictions in place. According to a report by, White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said, "We're not going to rely on Congress. We're going to find other avenues." Mr. Lockhart made the statement after a group of administration officials, led by White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, met to discuss gun control strategy.

The Podesta meeting, which included Clinton's domestic policy advisor Bruce Reed, Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, focused on possible actions that President Clinton could take to tighten firearms restrictions. These actions could include executive orders, new federal regulations or new legislation beyond the bill that is now stalled in Congress.

This isn't the first time the administration has threatened to use executive orders or regulations to further its agenda. The willingness to use extra-legislative action was declared by Paul Begala in his now famous remark, "Stroke of the pen, law of the land – kinda cool." But this appears to be the first time the White House has been blatantly, openly arrogant about its plans to bypass Congress.

This willingness to ignore the constitution and the legislative process is frightening. Where does this administration get the idea that it can rule by decree? Where is the authority for the Executive Branch to enact new laws by Executive Order when those same laws have been rejected by the Legislative Branch? Where in the constitution of the United States is the President's option of "not relying on Congress?"

This arrogant position clearly shows this administration's disdain and lack of respect for Congress and the American people. When it suits the President, he and his minions are prepared to ignore the law, the constitution, and the democratic processes that are supposed to rule the country. The president is not a monarch, not a king, not a dictator. The powers of the president are clearly identified in the constitution. The president is given considerable leeway on how he runs the Executive Branch. But nowhere in the constitution is the president granted the privilege of ruling by fiat. Despite what the White House may believe, the President is not above the law.

The administration hopes that the emotional context of gun control will mask their arrogant disregard for the law. But no matter what their justification is, no matter how emotional or inflammatory the subject is, there is no acceptable excuse for flagrantly dismissing the constitutional provisions that were intended to protect the rights of American citizens.

According to the Declaration of Independence, "Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed." The power of the government to act is derived from the people. The delineation of those powers is provided in the constitution. The constitution is the contract between the American people and the government the people have empowered. Violating that contract is a violation of the faith and trust of the people.

The deliberate, calculated attempt by this administration to bypass the legislative process, to ignore the rule of law, to disregard our established democratic practices is intolerable. This White House does not deserve the faith and trust of the American people.

The incredible arrogance of this administration qualifies it for nothing more than our contempt.

Charles Bloomer can be reached at © 1999 Charles Bloomer.

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