Signing Statements

With congressional approval rating at all of 9 percent, the White House - after two years of attempting to work with Congress, is now issuing signing statements.

A signing statement is a way around the legislature - essentially turning the office of the presidency into a dictatorial power. The chief executive has the right to append to any legislation, a statement in which he outlines how he expects certain aspects of any signed law - to be executed. These signing statements were a hallmark of the Bush presidency. They are, in effect, a series of semi-official laws that can be written from the white house.

For two years, Obama did not issue a single signing statement. And today, each signing statement that is now issued, comes with a public press conference in which the President states why he is issuing a statement, and once again pushing congress to act. Clearly , the president is seeking to attain Constitutional balance.

It is not clear how the elections of 2012 will turn out - and whether or not those who were elected to govern and then did nothing, will be given a free pass to return. It is likely that the election will again be bought. The elections of 2010 were marked by the most money ever thrown at a congressional midterm , in the history of our country. The elections of 2012 will likely be similiar. This will mean that whatever powers the presidency will acquire as a result of purchased representatives and the corruptive influence of money on the electoral process will acquire a vaneer of permanency.

This is a bad thing. We do not need to see a dysfunctional congress, and a unitary executive. Libya tried that out, and it failed.

But by the same token, we are also not going to want to see inaction and the "audacity of compromise". It is no surprise to find that those who seek to dismast the revolution that swept Obama into power, are also squarely hoping for economic downturn. It is much easier to criticize the man who came into power after the second greatest stock market crash in the history of our country - by saying he wasn't able to bring our economy back - than it is to attempt to turn the conversation towards ideological argument and push the issue that lit up the election of 2010, and the early primary season - onto the back burner.

It's funny how we become cynical about things. Republicans don't like Mitt Romney. They're going to lie about it later - but clearly the split electorate and their ability to bring Mr. Sweater Vest up to the front of the line - was an attempt to communicate to the internal ring of the party - that they're not happy with a path toward the middle. They were willing to sacrifice substance for flash (Cain), flash for substance (Gingrich), economic issues for social issues (Santorum) and finally social issues for the economy ( Romney). In the end, it will be a good debate in the fall - and Romney is a good candidate to challenge the Obama administration.

But the real battle should be in congress. With a congress in deadlock, the signing statement makes its appearance and the balance of power is at stake. Balanced powers are boring - and a government that simply does its job, is one that really can't drive a 24 hour news media entertainment cycle. It's certain that part of what will happen in the fall is that we'll end up with more of the same. But if by chance Congress should turn around , throw the bastards out -

It is highly likely we can throw this signing statement travesty out with it. A president should have more than enough to do as the principal diplomat, highest officer of the military, chief executive and head of the cabinet. Whoever makes it in the fall - it is clear that the current chief executive has shown a reluctance to take on the job of congressman.

I would argue that a turnaround in congress - with significant change in the House of Representatives, and a strengthened US Senate - will allow the president to put away signing statements and get back to doing his job.