The conservative blogosphere has been upset since Friday, when Obama, as part of a Friday night document dump, issued an executive order entitled “National Defense Resources Preparedness” (“NDRP”). Ed Morrissey, for one, was unimpressed:
This EO simply updates another EO (12919) that had been in place since June 1994, and amended several times since.
Indeed, the EO goes back even further than that, having originated during the Cold War:
The NDRP traces its origin to the Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950, which attempted to establish a framework for placing the nation on a “war footing” as quickly and in as efficient a manner as possible should events warrant. In an age of highly industrialized warfare, the basic building blocks of military success are composed of mundane elements such as supply chains, resource availability, parts, access to raw materials, and skilled labor.
Over the years, the DPA has seen many revisions, and the executive orders issued to implement those revisions presupposed an imminent threat of war. In 1994, then-President Clinton issued Executive Order 12919, which expanded the provisions of the DPA rather dramatically, declaring its applicability to peacetime.
Obama has repeatedly shown himself to be comfortable with using government to control as many aspects as possible of American life. He likes Big Government. And he socializes with and hires (on behalf of the American people, no less), people who are passionately committed to Big Government.
Obama has also shown that he has internalized the Alinsky technique of personalizing an enemy and then attacking it with all guns blazing. Currently, as part of his reelection campaign, he’s managed to personalize and attack as many specific conservatives as possible, in addition to conservatives in general. Conservatives therefore feel besieged and don’t like to see their political opponent reminding them that he can take all government power onto himself.
Given Obama’s temperament and belief system, conservatives not unnaturally get their feathers ruffled when they see him making himself very comfortable with a pre-existing power that Americans reasonably believed past presidents viewed solely as a belts and suspenders measure in case the worst ever happens. With Obama, we all have the creepy — and, yes, not entirely rational — feeling that he will, first, make the worst happen and, second, gleefully grab onto the power that he recently re-upped.
One other thing: Obama knows this. He recognizes the paranoid streak that runs through conservatives in the Obama era. (At which point it’s worth pointing out that even paranoid people have enemies.) With an election year upon us, there’s nothing Obama wants more than to show the average American that conservatives are paranoid nutcases. Average American’s don’t like paranoid nutcases. I suspect, therefore, that Obama’s administration might have seen updating the NDRP (plus the inflammatory Friday night stealth release) as an opportunity, not just for some executive office housekeeping, but also to highlight the hypersensitivity that allows him (and Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, etc.) to paint us with the crazy brush. In other words, folks, this is a set up, although one that can have real-world, long-time consequences.
We should definitely keep an eye on things, but I agree with those commentators who say that we shouldn’t be getting our knickers in a twist.