Enough with the hysteria! The people who are all in a huff about President Obama’s promise to use executive orders need to get a grip. Every president, beginning with George Washington, has issued executive orders.
So far, President Obama has issued fewer than 170, not more than 900, as some have claimed. George W. Bush issued 291, and Ronald Reagan, 381. FDR holds the record, with more than 3,700. Barack Obama is a constitutional lawyer; for him to do something unconstitutional would be highly unlikely. The politicians and pundits who are loudly claiming that he has usurped power are just blowing smoke. If they really thought he had done something illegal, they would immediately begin filing impeachment charges or getting the orders overturned by the Supreme Court instead of bloviating on television.
We might ask why this president finds executive orders appealing. To learn the answer, we need only return to Jan. 20, 2009 —Inauguration evening. While Democrats were dancing their way around town, 15 Republicans met at a Washington restaurant, including Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Newt Gingrich, and spinmeister Frank Luntz. They vowed that night to oppose the new president at every turn in order to return the Republicans to power in 2012.
Later, Mitch McConnell repeatedly articulated the Republican goal on national TV: to make Obama a one-term president. More important than putting the unemployed back to work, more important than resolving the country’s deep economic crisis or solving the immigration problem, more important than accomplishing anything of substance is their attempt to keep the president and the Democrats from governing. Instead, they make a great show of passing bills they know have no chance of passing.
This Congress’s inaction has made it the least admired Congress in history. Obama has finally realized that if he’s going to accomplish anything, he’ll have to do it himself. And he has so far done it, and will continue to do it, within legal parameters. So let’s put the histrionics to rest and tell Congress to get serious about addressing the nation’s problems. Then the president won’t have to act alone.