One of the biggest reasons I voted for Obama was because I thought he was more likely than McCain to accept the Constitutional limitations on his presidency. One of the 800 or so crises we’re currently facing is a serious weakening of the rule of law thanks to the Bush administration’s adoption of the neo-monarchist theory of the unitary presidency. Unless the Obama administration is willing to back the fuck off of policies like indefinite detention and dismissing entire court cases by shrieking about state secrets, then they’re assisting the Bush administration in causing permanent damage to the rule of law.
At the risk of sounding a little snarky, I’m not exactly surprised that the Obama administration isn’t too keen on completely rejecting Bush’s expansions of executive power. I’ve argued before that structural incentives will push Obama towards either increasing or consolidating the power of the executive branch. It’s inevitable; presidents want to implement their agendas in full despite the fact that the American system is designed to restrain the executive’s actions. The only way to get around that is to either A) circumvent those structures using existing presidential powers or B) eliminate those structures using any means possible. While I’m reasonably certain that Obama won’t take the latter route, he almost certainly will take steps to preserve many of the powers George W. Bush bequeathed to him.
Really, at this point, Congress is the only entity that can restrain executive power. The problem, of course, is that either party isn’t much interested in constraining executive power; Democrats are in power (and want to implement their agenda), and Republicans have basically adopted unlimited presidential power as a critical part of their project. Honestly, I don’t see executive power returning to its pre-Bush status quo anytime soon, if ever.