Imagine yourself the manager of a telemarketing cubicle farm; for these purposes, we’ll call it TelAmeriCorp. Now imagine more than half the people in your office literally only showed up to work to torment you, obstruct your work and make you look like an evil moron. After a few months, the stockholders start to carry a pretty low opinion of you because, hell, there are fewer phone calls going out of your cube farm, and fewer sales than at any point in TelAmeriCorp history.
Eventually, you decide to stop being Mr. Nice guy, and get these monkeys in the same tree. Now, imagine that, the day you announced your crackdown, the useless half of your office rose up, cried as one “you’re not the boss of me!” and SUED YOU for DOING YOUR JOB.
Barack Obama has the worst job in the world.
Yes, following the SOTU address in which Obama swore to use all of his powers as president (including issuing Executive Orders and Proclaimations) to subvert the worst Congress in U.S. history wherever possible, none other than Michelle “Screamin’ Cray-Cray” Bachmann threatened to sue the president for “acting like a monarch.”
“He’s the president of the United States. He’s not a king. He may think he’s a king, he may declare himself king, but that’s not what he is under our Constitution. If he wants to move forward with this unilateral activity, he better be prepared for the lawsuit that the United States Congress will bring to him.”
You hear that, Commander-in-Chief Executive of the United States? You’re not the boss of Michelle Bachmann! How DARE you use your Constitutionally granted powers to subvert the Constitution by doing exactly what you said you were going to do when you were overwhelmingly elected twice? How DARE you?
Fresh on the heels of Mike Lee invoking the memory of the Boston Tea Party (which he claims was a protest against big government overreach, as opposed to a protest about domination by a foreign government with a vested interest in maintaining corporate welfare and monopolies at the expense of an unrepresented populace), Bachmann’s invocation of Obama as a “monarch” is sure to make our tricorner-hat-wearing friends gush like Boston Harbor.
But, as usual, there’s a lot more — meaning “less” — to this comparison than Bachmann’s simplistic temper tantrum would have adherents believe. Here’s a brief summary of things you should know about executive orders, courtesy of the Associated Press.
1) EVERY PRESIDENT USES THEM
George Washington himself issued eight different executive orders, though the term itself didn’t exist then. This unilateral decision-making strategy was, however, codified by the time Jefferson used one to enact the Louisiana Purchase, when Lincoln issued one to free the slaves, when Truman used an EO to de-segregate the military and when Bush used one to establish “military tribunals” for the loosely defined “unlawful enemy combatants.” Obama used one to halt the deportation of young illegal immigrants.
2) THE OTHER PARTY ALWAYS HATES THEM, UNTIL THEY’RE IN OFFICE
3) NOT ALL EXECUTIVE ORDERS ARE “EXECUTIVE ORDERS”
The president uses all kinds of executive powers to do things. These include “orders” (which apply to those in the government), proclamations (which apply to non-government citizens), directives, memos and many others. Obama’s minimum wage raise for 250,000 Federal contractors is an Executive Order, which is why it won’t affect the general population. The deportation decision was a policy memo issued to Homeland Security. Bill Clinton used proclamations to protect two million acres of forest land, and Carter used a proclamation to pardon Vietnam draft dodgers.
4) THEY’RE NOT THE LAW OF THE LAND FOREVER, OR MAYBE EVEN EVER
A president’s EOs only last as long as they’re in office; the next one can un-write the last president’s orders with the stroke of a pen. Several, including the “global gag rule” that kept Federal funds from those who practice or promote abortion have been written in and out of law several times. In by Reagan, out by Clinton, back in by Dubya, and back out again by Obama.
And just because a president signs an order doesn’t mean it’s going to work. Obama could sign a proclamation giving all Americans laser eyes and flaming butterfly wings, that doesn’t mean congress is going to approve the funding, that it’s even possible, or that all people would submit to the Weapon X program to get them. Obama signed a proclamation closing Guantanamo his first week on the job, and Congress subverted him by pulling the funding to move the prisoners.
That alone proves a very important point: It takes money to do almost everything, and Congress holds the purse strings. Could Obama sign a proclamation to raise a cyborg army to wipe out the Tea Party? Sure, but it will never get funded by Ted Cruz?
5) OBAMA’S HARDLY ABUSED THE EOs, EVEN WITH A CONGRESS HELL-BENT ON OBSTRUCTING EVERYTHING HE DOES
Executive orders could be anything from freeing slaves to acknowledging somebody’s birthday, so numbers alone don’t exactly tell the tale. But, they might in Michelle Bachmann’s simple world. So, here’s a list of America’s most egregious monarchs.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt — 3,522
- Woodrow Wilson — 1,803
- Calvin Coolidge — 1,203
- Theodore Roosevelt — 1,081
- Herbert Hoover — 968
- Harry Truman — 907
- William Howard Taft — 724
- Warren G. Harding — 522
- Dwight Eisenhower — 484
- Ronald Reagan — 381
- Bill Clinton — 364
- Richard Nixon — 346
- Lyndon Johnson — 325
- George W. Bush — 291
- John F. Kennedy — 214
- Gerald Ford — 169
- Barack Obama (to date) — 168
- George Bush Sr. — 166
As of right now, with Obama’s remaining 1,461 days left in office he would have to pass one Executive Order every:
- 12 DAYS to match George W. Bush
- 7 DAYS to match Ronald Reagan
- 2 DAYS to match Herbert Hoover
- 21 HOURS to match Woodrow Wilson
- 10 HOURS and 30 MINUTES to match Franklin Roosevelt
Truly, Michelle, Obama isn’t just doing his job. We are quite clearly in the presence of a monarch and tyrant.