Obama picks sides… reveals self

I don’t care if President Obama wants to run the Democratic party like a benevolent dictator ….so long as he doesn’t run the country that way!

But note the quote from the article that I highlight below….

The Associated Press: Obama picks sides to prevent Democratic primaries
But Obama also publicly recognized Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic state attorney general who has long eyed the gubernatorial office once held by his father, Mario Cuomo. "Andrew’s doing great work enforcing the laws that need to be enforced," Obama said as he cast a warm smile toward Cuomo.

There is a legal principle know as "prosecutorial discretion" whereby a prosecutor can decide to not prosecute some cases based upon the "norms of the community" and the circumstances of the specific crime, e.g. diminished mental capacity, first offense, extra-legal resolution (i.e. daddy sends son into the army to learn self control, etc.)  And I have no problem with that as traditionally applied to first offenders in the case of small crimes.

But what does Obama mean by that phrase here?

Does the president, a constitutional law professor, not realize the importance of maintaining the appearance of applying ALL law to ALL citizens EVENLY?

The occasional application of discretion by a prosecutor is an act of mercy and compassion, recognized by the traditions of our system.  The suggestion by THE PRESIDENT that "enforcing the laws that need to be enforced" leaves hanging the suggestion that some laws can be ignored!

This idea, that some laws can be ignored, feeds into a popular stereotype of corruption in our society:  "rich boys club", "laws are different in the ghetto", "you do what you need to do to get buy", "it’s who you know, not what you do", "redneck law", "<name any group> take care of their own", "judge shopping", etc.

It is very corrosive to to trust in our legal system when a powerful figure like the president suggests that laws SHOULD be enforced selectively.

I hope the president will be far more sensitive to this issue in the future.  Unfortunately, he has already uttered these words and he can’t take them back without further spreading doubt.  When he took sides in the Professor Gates fiasco admittedly before knowing the facts, the subsequent "recalibration" of his words magnified and illuminated the problem with what he had said in the first place, as well as suggesting he can "recalibrate" his words whenever it is convenient.

We badly need faith that our executive branch enforces all laws without prejudice or bias…. BEYOND RACIAL BIAS, to include enforcement of laws with which the party in power disagree, or even are unpopular nationwide!  But even more so, we need a CONGRESS that believes the laws it creates are REAL, not just political theater to help win elections and then easily ignored when it comes to enforcement!

Hopefully, pointing out this problem will bring more appreciation of the separation of powers…. and the immense powers they are…. between the executive and the legislative branch.  We will not have an effective government if the executives think they can ignore the laws they don’t like and the legislators think the law books are just collections of political pamphlets, existing only to make politicians look good at election time.

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