Is it starting to get a little boring to you too? It seems I write most of my columns refuting false, overblown partisan claims emanating from the far-right fringe of American politics. It’s an endless task, for sure, and we’re in a rut, trudging through the same mud, again and again.
Sometimes, I wish the conservative propaganda factories would invent some totally new manufactured controversy to talk about. Good, bad, or ugly, I prefer the truth, but I’ll admit, I’m always amused, watching the Fox entertainers lie to me and tell me to follow mankind’s basest prejudices.
But propagandists don’t have to lie to send a false message.
Take John Takeuchi’s June 30 Daily Republic column, “How important is liberty to you?”
In that column, instead of simply listing the usual Fox talking points, which have been widely discussed and repudiated, he simply recaps them in a series of questions that presuppose they are all true, and then asks, “Are you OK with a Congress that will not hold the president accountable for such behavior?”
The obvious answer is, “No!” but I wonder which president is he talking about.
Let’s look at John’s first questions, “Are you OK with a president who ignores his oath to faithfully execute the laws? How about picking and choosing which laws to implement?”
He, of course, is pulling out the old Fox canard that Obama is an “imperial president,” dictating his own laws. As “proof,” they cite the fact that he has used executive orders to get some things done as Congress has proven inert. Just a few days ago, President Obama said, “I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing. . . . and in this situation, the failure of the House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future.”
The Republicans in Congress responded, not by doing their job, but by childishly threatening to sue the president for making them look bad by doing their job for them. It seems that with each passing year of the Obama presidency, Congress breaks its previous records of immaturity and inactivity.
So, how many executive orders has our “imperial” president issued? The answer of 183 may seem like a lot, until you compare that to George W. Bush’s 291 and Ronald Reagan’s 381.
But while the conservative propaganda factories focus on President Obama’s use of executive orders, probably because that term sounds so imperial, there is another tool in the box that allows a president to alter bills passed by Congress. In addition to an outright veto, the president can use a “signing statement” to reject or alter parts of a bill. George W. Bush used signing statements to defy, redefine or contort about 1,200 provisions in 161 laws he signed, twice as many as all his predecessors combined, while “imperial” President Obama has only 27 signing statements.
When George W. Bush wrote his signing statements and executive orders, the Democrats couldn’t stop him. Now that President Obama is doing it, Republicans are left crying in the corner. Bit by bit, year by year, more and more power collects in the hands of the president, but “imperial” Obama is not to blame.
We are not yet at the point of Richard Nixon’s “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” but, because of the spoiled-child hubris when the Republicans are in power, and stubborn, sulking lack of compromise when out, we edge ever closer to that Constitutional cliff.
It’s time for Congress to grow up.
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil – Banking in America.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.