Unfortunately, a faction in the conservative movement has married its wariness of European-style social welfare and federal bureaucrats to extreme beliefs about executive power. The latter are far more ruinous to liberty, and more enabling of tyranny. Do I want to rein in the commerce clause? Yes. And like Mitch Daniels, I regard our fiscal problem to be overwhelming. But even a cursory look at history shows that a Friedrich Hayek-style road to serfdom has rarely if ever come to pass, while investing the head of state with excessive, unchecked power has ended in tyranny too many times to count. Elsewhere I've called this the shortcut to serfdom. It's the route Mark Levin and others like him endorse without grasping where it leads.
This is most evident in his recent Facebook posts on Libya and executive power, and his long-running endorsements of Bush Administration lawyer John Yoo. Taken together, these tell us Levin's position on what the president must do to initiate war and the extent of his power as he wages it.
As a matter of logic, a head of state is most constrained from becoming abusive in war time if he is unable to launch a war without checks and balances, and is meaningfully limited in his war-time actions. He is still constrained, if less so, when permitted to launch a war but restrained in waging it, or unable to instigate war but unconstrained once it is launched. Then there is the combination that safeguards liberty the least: one where the head of state can start a war on his own initiative, and claim extraordinary powers beyond what he normally enjoys while waging it. This last combination is what Mark Levin and John Yoo embrace. They claim it is consistent with what the Founders intended, and supported by the Constitution properly understood.
Ponder the implications. In arguing that Obama is justified in his behavior toward Libya despite his lack of Congressional approval, Levin is asserting that the president is vested with the right to launch a war (or is it a kinetic military action?) absent an imminent threat, a provoking act, or even a compelling national interest in the conflict. Nor does Levin think UN approval is necessary. So basically, the president can go to war anywhere, at any time. And once he goes to war, Yoo assures us that the president possesses the unchecked power to spy on Americans without a warrant, to declare us enemy combatants on his own unchallengeable authority, to waterboard us, to order the assassination of Americans abroad, as President Obama says he can do, to crush the testicles of our children in order to extract information from us, etc.
So I ask Levin's listeners - who regard it as creeping tyranny to give the Obama Administration partial control over the US health care system - what is it to invest President Obama, as an individual, with the unilateral authority to initiate war, and all the powers that supposedly belong to the wartime executive. Is it Constitutional? Is it prudent? Is it consistent with the admonition that "freedom is never more than one generation from extinction"? Which is the greater threat to our freedom: A system where Obama would be unable to launch a war against a small, faraway country that poses no threat to us sans Congressional approval? Or the system that Levin and Yoo endorse?