Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Right's Newfound Fear of Executive Orders.

If you still listen to conservative talk radio (despite its rapidly decreasing relevance in the American political scene), you've probably noticed that guys like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Savage are beside themselves in the wake of the Democratic takeover of the federal government. This is all easy to understand when you consider how far and how fast the GOP has fallen since the election of 2006. It's difficult to believe that the Republican Party had attained a complete consolidation of national power as recently as little more than three years ago. Things have definitely changed, and many pundits are having difficulty making the proper adjustments. That may be a shame for their followers, but it can also be quite entertaining.

One topic of intense consternation on the extreme Right is the presidential power of executive order. Obviously, while George W. Bush presided, uber-conservatives were only too happy to welcome his heavy-handed governance, and Cheney's construction of "the unitary executive". This approach made the Bush administration one of the most overreaching political bodies in modern American history. With the complicity of much of the media, Bush and company were able to reign almost completely unchallenged in Washington. And indeed, much of their agenda was prosecuted via executive order. Obviously this category of proclamation that carries the force of law is an important tool in the presidential arsenal.

Regardless of your interpretation of the legitimacy of Bush/Cheney, there can be no arguing that they fully embraced the concept of ruling by fiat. For a complete list of executive orders passed from 2001-08 (broken down by category), you can consult this site. If that math is correct, Dubya issued 284 executive orders during his eight years in office. He put out eight in the first month of his first term. Even more telling, he wrote five during his last working week as the president. Of course this accounting doesn't apply to the other directives and signing statements he made while occupying the Oval Office. For guys like Limbaugh, Savage and Hannity to bitch about Obama's activity so far is laughable.

Obama's critics are frothing at their collective mouth because they know he is a formidable leader who will actively work to undo a lot of the damage of his predecessor. It's especially amusing to see them try to hide their assaults under the banner of concern for the US Constitution. But when they hyperventilate about the "unprecedented" total of Obama's executive orders (I count five on the official White House site), they rarely if ever get into the details of their opposition. Do you have any idea what type of policy that Obama is trying to execute with his directives? You certainly don't if you listen to Conservative hack radio. They'd rather try to frighten with lies than enlighten with facts.

Let me provide a quick breakdown so far, Three of our President's executive orders fall under the banner of defense policy objectives. He is closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (1). He is setting up new standards and practices for the interrogation of detainees in US custody (2), and he is establishing a Special Interagency Task Force on Detainee Disposition (3). Furthermore he has sought to hold executive branch appointees to certain new ethical requirements (4) and established a policy to make Presidential records more accessible (5). Make a quick analysis of this list and tell me which of these E.O.'s present a danger to our rights under the US Constitution...

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Blogger rainywalker said...

All of them since they subvert the intent of the Founding Fathers and are not in the Constitution. Executive Orders have added a new branch of government that bypasses a weak [spineless] or same party Congress. King George III ruled again and this time gave us the debt.

6:33 PM  

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