GOP: ‘He's not a king’

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Whether lamenting the so-called vacationer in chief's swing of a golf club or criticizing his handling of the healthcare rollout, Republicans are getting in the habit of comparing President Obama to a monarch.

"It's one thing after another. You know he says he has no choice but to act. He says he has a pen and a phone, and he's going to act," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) stated on Fox News's "On the Record" Wednesday, making scepter-like gestures.

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"That doesn't sound like our republic," he added. "He's not a king. He has to really get approval from Congress."

Paul has made the comparison several times, including in his Tea Party response to Obama's 2013 State of the Union speech. More recently, it was Sarah Palin who offered the line to criticize Obama's use of executive authority.

"With his pen and his phone he's abrogating Congressional authority — making himself a ruler, not a president," the former vice presidential candidate told those gathered at a conservative summit in Colorado last month.

"You know, we had a revolution back in 1776 because we don't do kings," she said.

Even Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has leveled the criticism.

In a June memo, the basis for the forthcoming House lawsuit against the president, Boehner warned of "giving the president king-like authority at the expense of the American people and their elected legislators."

On immigration, Republican opposition has so far not deterred Obama's push to use executive powers to "make the system work better,” as he said on Thursday.

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert, said Obama’s use of executive power raises “serious” questions.

"That's not how the system works. That raises very serious separation of power questions. The president cannot become a government unto himself," he said.

Talk of an "imperial presidency" is not meant to suggest royal status, Turley said, but refers to a system where the traditional checks and balances have broken down. 

Turley, a professor at George Washington University, said it is "inherently dangerous" for any president to act imperially in the U.S., adding, "Barack Obama is the president that Richard Nixon had always wanted to be."

Criticism of Obama’s go-it-alone approach was amplified this week by a report that Obama plans to push for  an international climate change agreement through the United Nations that he says would not require congressional ratification.

Meanwhile, the president's authorization of "limited" airstrikes in Iraq, now more than 100 since Aug. 8, has led to increased discussion on whether the president needs to seek congressional approval if he launches airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Syria. 

Obama vowed Thursday that Congress would not be "left in the dark" on potentially broader U.S. military plans.

Tensions between Obama and Congress were heightened last week, when a Government Accountability Office report found Obama acted unlawfully when he swapped five Taliban leaders held at Guantánamo Bay for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, because he did not notify Congress 30 days in advance.

The White House has rejected that conclusion, with Obama himself in the past pushing back on claims he has overstepped his presidential authority.

In a radio interview on Univision in early 2012, speaking on immigration and his campaign promise to Hispanics, Obama said, "You know, we live in a democracy. We don't live in a monarchy. I'm not the king, I'm the president."

"I can only implement those laws that are passed through Congress," he added.