Conservatives can be a grudging lot. That’s especially true when it comes to President Obama. Even where he’s been in the right—whether it be killing Osama bin Laden or promoting charter schools—we can be stingy with praise.
So let us now, in full public view, credit his greatest public service as president: He is sending Americans back to the Constitution.
Yes, in the Bush years the air was also thick with accusations that the Constitution was being “shredded.” We now know that the professed concern for the Constitution was fake. We know it was fake because the same Bush claims of executive authority in war that provoked such apoplexy in our pundits, professors and politicos have for the most part been embraced by Mr. Obama—all to the distinct sound of silence.
Today we have a wholly different order of constitutional complaint. Where the accusations against Mr. Bush were led by prestigious law faculties and law firms, those against Mr. Obama reflect a more popular hue. Where the indictments of Mr. Bush were largely limited to war policy, those against Mr. Obama’s extend broadly to all areas of policy: foreign, economic and social. And where critics of Mr. Bush were obsessed with outcome, the discontent with Mr. Obama has been magnified by the uneasy sense that he is changing the fundamental rules of the game.