Tag Archives | Barack Obama

Can Obama accept the Nobel Prize without congressional consent?

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, Rep. Cliff Stearns, and Rep. Ron Paul say “no,” and have sent a letter to the President asking him to request congressional consent, which they expect would be speedily given. They point to the example of President Theodore Roosevelt, who created  a committee, including the Chief Justice, to hold Roosevelt’s Nobel Peace Prize money in trust until he left office. After leaving office, Roosevelt asked for congressional consent to disburse the money to particular charities.

Article I, § 9, clause 8, of the Constitution states that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

When Roosevelt won the Peace Prize, there was apparently no controlling statute. Today there is: 5 USC § 7342 (titled “Receipt and disposition of foreign gifts and decorations”) sets out the conditions under which foreign gifts can be accepted without a separate action of Congress. The statute applies to an “employee,” which includes “the President and the Vice President.”

A “foreign government” includes ” any agent or representative of any such [foreign] unit or such organization, while acting as such.” Since the Nobel Peace Prize committee is, as the Representatives note, appointed by the Norwegian Storting (the legislature), it would seem to be within the scope of the statute.

A “gift”  is “a tangible or intangible present (other than a decoration) .” A “decoration” includes a ” medal, badge, insignia, emblem, or award.”

By the statute, Congress explicitly consents to employee receipt of gifts of  “minimal value,” which is “means a retail value in the United States at the time of acceptance of $100 or less.” The statute authorizes the Administrator of General Services [...]

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News Flash: Presidents Work When They Travel

Though I am a Chicagoan who is rooting for Rio — not Chicago — to win the 2016 Olympic bid, I think the criticism of President Obama for flying to Copenhagen to lobby the Olympic Selection Committee is silly. A modern president is working at least 16 hours most days (Reagan being the only exception I’m aware of). Whatever Obama’s strengths and shortcomings might be, loafing is not one of them.

I think this travel criticism of Obama is about as ridiculous as the grief that George W. Bush used to get for going to his ranch in Texas for most of August.

The idea that you can’t travel and work used to be more common than it is today — and it reflected an earlier period when it was often impossible to do so.

I remember one December night in 1972 going to visit my (then future) wife’s maternal grandparents, the Ackermans, who lived on a farm between Freeport, IL (population about 30,000) and Rockford, IL (population about 140,000).

They were both of German farm stock (Grandma Ackerman’s maiden name was also Ackerman, which means “farmer”), and German was the language used in their home in the 1920s.

They worked long and hard on the farm and did little else. In the early 1970s, they had not been to Rockford, which was about 15 miles away, for several decades, and they had not been to Freeport, less than 10 miles away, for at least 5 years. They hated daylight savings time because (as Grandma Ackerman explained to me) it was bad for their cows.

That night, when their TV showed the face of Richard Nixon (whom I disliked), I asked Grandma Ackerman what she thought of him. She answered, “I guess that Nixon guy is OK, but every time [...]

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