Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Palin needs civics lesson

By DeWayne Wickham

In a not-so-swift swift-boat attack on Barack Obama, Sarah Palin tried to link the Secret Service sex scandal to the president’s ability to manage this nation’s affairs. But she succeeds only in demonstrating how fuzzy her knowledge is of the government she came close to being a heartbeat away from running.

Palin told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that the Secret Service agents’ inappropriate contact with Colombian prostitutes was “a symptom of a government run amok” and Obama’s “poor management skills.” Then Palin offered up this bit of nonsense as proof of her contention: “The No. 1 thing that he is responsible for is . . . violating Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution in not having a budget.”

What she’s talking about is the section of the Constitution that spells out the responsibility of Congress, not the president, to appropriate money spent by all branches of the federal government. That clause of the Constitution does not mandate creation of a federal budget. It doesn’t even use the word “budget.”

The president is required by the 1921 Budget and Accounting Act to submit a budget to Congress — and that’s exactly what Obama has done every year since taking office. That Congress hasn’t passed any of his budgets is a failing of both Republican and Democratic legislators on Capitol Hill, not the man who occupies the Oval Office.

Blaming Obama for Congress’ failure to pass a budget might be good politics for the former Alaska governor, but it’s bad civics.

It has been “over 1,000 days with no budget, no blueprint to run our federal government,” Palin told Van Susteren. Under Article 2 of the Constitution, which deals with the president’s responsibilities , Obama has a duty to ensure that laws are “faithfully executed.” But to meet that test, he only needs to make sure the money his administration spends is authorized by Congress. And though this may be news to Palin, Congress has spent merrily during Obama’s presidency through the use of appropriations, continuing resolutions and the budget reconciliation process.

To say that Palin ought to know better is to expect too much enlightenment from someone who says Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., tops her list of candidates to be the GOP’s vice presidential candidate. West recently pandered to the fears of some of his right-wing backers when he irrationally proclaimed that 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party are members of the Communist Party.

Palin is a captain in the swift-boat fleet — the same type of smear tactic used against John Kerry in 2004 — that Republicans have launched against Obama. Her mission is to inflict as much damage on him as possible — and to do it in any way she can. Back in December, she got off an early salvo when she criticized the president for sending out a Christmas card that showed his dog in front of a fireplace decorated with a holiday wreath, bulbs and ribbons. It was “odd,” she said, that the card had no overt religious symbols or emphasis on “family, faith and freedom.”

Of course Palin saw nothing wrong with the religious symbols-free holiday card Republican President George W. Bush sent out shortly after she and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., were defeated in the 2008 presidential election by Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.

That's because neither logic nor good sense has anything to do with her swift-boating attacks on Obama.

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