Rushing to impose new regulations, withholding information and quickly giving Democrat political appointees “career bureaucrat” status so they can’t be fired.
I guess I have to cop to buying it, at least in the beginning. Although I did allow for the possibility that Obama might have an angle, I thought honesty compelled me back on November 14 to give him credit for having been a good sport and a perfect statesman about the election result. I even used the word awesome:
He may very well have an angle. And it’s entirely possible that his ego won’t let this last.
But as much as we’ve criticized just about everything Obama’s done as president – and justifiably so, I would maintain – I can’t help but give him credit now for the way he’s handling the early segments of the transition.
Obama has been magnanimous in his treatment of Donald Trump, and he seems to remember how professional the Bush team was during the transition to his administration, and seems determined to follow his predecessor’s example and do the same for Trump.
The Wall Street Journal had a rather extraordinary story about Trump’s surprise at realizing he would have to replace the entire White House staff by Inauguration Day, and about Obama’s realization that he needs to spend more time than he had planned on with his successor, helping to make sure he understands the full scope of the job.
I guess his ego didn’t allow it to last. Or maybe it was always a con job.
In her indispensible Potomac Watch column in Wall Street Journal, Kim Strassel explains some of what the Obama team is doing under the radar to lay traps and landmines for the incoming Trump Administration. It’s nasty stuff, bad for the country and bad for the presidency:
Trump transition-team members report how Obama officials are providing them with skewed or incomplete information, as well as lectures about their duties on climate change. (No wonder Mr. Trump is bypassing those “official” intelligence briefings.) The Energy Department is refusing to provide the transition team with the names of career officials who led key programs, like those who attended U.N. climate talks. Sen. Ron Johnson recently sent a letter to President Obama voicing alarm over “burrowing,” in which political appointees, late in an administration, convert to career bureaucrats and become obstacles to the new political appointees.
But perhaps nothing has more underlined the Obama arrogance than his final flurry of midnight regulations. With each new proposed rule or executive order, Mr. Obama is spitefully mocking the nation that just told him “enough.”
The technical definition of a midnight regulation is one issued between Election Day and the inauguration of a new president. The practice is bipartisan. George W. Bush, despite having promised not to do so, pushed through a fair number of rules in his final months. But Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were more aggressive, and Mr. Obama is making them look like pikers.
Mr. Obama has devoted his last year to ramming through controversial and far-reaching rules. Whether it was born of a desire to lay groundwork for a Clinton presidency, or as a guard against a Trump White House, the motive makes no difference. According to a Politico story of nearly a year ago, the administration had some 4,000 regulations in the works for Mr. Obama’s last year. They included smaller rules on workplace hazards, gun sellers, nutrition labels and energy efficiency, as well as giant regulations (costing billions) on retirement advice and overtime pay.
Since the election Mr. Obama has broken with all precedent by issuing rules that would be astonishing at any moment and are downright obnoxious at this point. This past week we learned of several sweeping new rules from the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, including regs on methane on public lands (cost: $2.4 billion); a new anti-coal rule related to streams ($1.2 billion) and renewable fuel standards ($1.5 billion).
Strassel explains that this is all very strategic. Reversing executive orders takes time, just as it takes time to draw them up and put them into action. Bill Clinton imposed his own flurry of new rules before leaving office, and George W. Bush vowed to reverse them, but only got around to dealing with 18 percent of them. Obama’s people apparently believe that with their last-minute regulatory flurry they can either a) make the new rules stick, thus serving the ideological interests of the left; or b) keep the Trump team so busy with the minutia involved with reversing them that they don’t have time for the priorities they really want to be working on.
So much for wanting to help Trump be successful. Of course Obama never wanted Trump to succeed in an ideological sense, but you can possibly believe he would have wanted to see a smooth transition in terms of people being in place, prepared to do the job, aware of national security risks and so forth. I may not agree with your agenda, but there’s no sense not showing you where the bathrooms are, or how to use the elevator.
Bogging Trump down with superfluous nonsense just because you can is the presidential equivalent of that. It’s a way to make his job as hard as it can possibly be from day one, just because you can.
It makes all of Obama’s talk about how professional the Bush team was, and how he wanted to follow suit, ring pretty hollow. Obama’s legacy is about to get obliterated because that’s what the voters decided they wanted, and while he can’t stop it, he can scorch the earth was much as possible on the way out because he’s really never been about anything but himself and what he wants.