Maybe it’s the best hand Obama has to play, but it’s not a very good hand. For one thing, the voters who have turned on him don’t think he has exercised too little power, but rather too much — so bragging about doing things without congressional sanction may not play well.
Second, no matter how resolute he sounds, the fact that he has to act in a somewhat rogue manner is an expression of a profound loss of presidential authority — and one that he can’t successfully blame on Congress.
According to reports from the Congressional Research Service, during their time in office President Ronald Reagan made 240 recess appointments, President George H. W. Bush made 77 recess appointments, President Bill Clinton made 140 recess appointments, and George W. Bush made 171. Obama's first term has seen a paltry 28. In this context, Obama's move seems less like a power grab and more like the proverbial 98-pound weakling taking a second to wipe the sand out of his eyes.
It's okay if a Republican does it, apparently. Funny how that works in Podhoretz's little corner of non-reality. The GOP seems especially incensed because they claim the Senate was "in session" at the time, meaning that the appointments were unconstitutional. Nary a peep out of the Republicans when Dubya was doing the same thing with the power of the executive. Barely a word when Newt Gingrich last month declared he would simply ignore the Supreme Court if he didn't agree with them.
But Barack Obama makes a recess appointment, and it's TREE OF LIBERTY MUST BE REFRESHED WITH THE BLOOD OF TYRANTS time. Hey, Republicans? You have a recourse. Reconvene the House. Present articles of impeachment over this. Let's see what you've got.
Otherwise, you're whinging about a power spelled out in the Constitution itself. Shut it.