Joe Biden rose to the presidency on promises of healing America’s soul and unifying the country — and then, when he got there, turned around and slammed the Constitution down hard and issued a bunch of executive orders.
Executive orders are hardly unifying. They’re more, “I am zee law!”
They don’t exactly say, “humble service to the people,” “due legislative process,” “careful consideration of all sides,” or “representative of America’s will.” Rather: Me, me, me! My, my, my.
In fact, executive orders don’t really belong in America at all — not in the way Democrats and, yes, Republicans, too, have abused them over the years.
For comparative purposes, and according to The American Presidency Project’s research: George Washington issued eight. Franklin D. Roosevelt issued 3,721. Barack Obama issued 276. Donald Trump issued 220. Biden, in his first day of office, issued 17.
At that rate, he’ll have FDR beat before mid-year.
But with executive orders, it’s not just the amount — it’s the substance. Content counts.
Washington used his executive orders to call for department heads to give him formal reports about their goings-on. Roosevelt used his to enact New Deal reforms that may not have sailed so easily or speedily through Congress — like the establishment of his Works Progress Administration to put poor Americans to work during the Great Depression. Obama used his executive orders to run circles around the Constitution and unilaterally grant amnesty to millions of illegals, crack down on Second Amendment rights and push public schools into letting little boys into the girls’ bathrooms — not to mention rewriting key pieces of Obamacare to make it difficult to challenge. And he did it all while bragging about his power grab.
“We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need,” Obama said in early 2014. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”
And so what that America has a Constitution?
This is not to say Republicans haven’t mocked the proper legislative process and shoved through unconstitutional executive orders, as well — unconstitutional, at root, because the Constitution does not specifically delegate the right of a president to issue executive orders. So the standard is zero; the standard is supposed to be zero. It’s incumbent on all presidents to prove why they need to issue even one executive order, never mind thousands — never mind bragging about pens and phones and presidential power.
But Trump, for example, issued executive orders in his early days in office because Republicans wouldn’t work with him. Republicans, who held majorities in both House and Senate in the first couple years of Trump’s administration — Republicans refused to work with him and actually threw in more with Democrats to fight him, then help. So Trump turned to executive orders to prod along promises he made on the campaign trail to voters.
Obama issued them because he liked the idea of wearing a crown.
“Obama uses executive orders as political tool,” CNN wrote in November of 2011.
And now comes Biden, already dubbed the Obama On Steroids. Now comes Biden with his 17 orders on day one.
“There’s no time to start like today,” he said from the Oval Office, signing away. “I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people.”
Except, of course, the one to unify, not divide.
That one it seems has already been forgotten and tossed to the side.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE. Her latest book, “Socialists Don’t Sleep: Christians Must Rise Or America Will Fall,” is available by clicking HERE.