Monday, November 10, 2008

On Executive Orders and Barack Obama

I've been defending you, Barack Obama. It seems like everyone around here (and elsewhere) wants to fear your policies and philosophy. They claim you're going to nationalize some private industries. They swear that you'll further centralize and concentrate power in the Executive branch. And I've been on your side, giving you the benefit of the doubt. I've argued to the point of exhaustion and crippling carpal tunnel. But're making it much harder to do. This, from Yahoo news. Obama plans on using "executive orders" from day one. We just suffered through eight years of a President who unconstitutionally power-grabbed by abusing and exploiting the executive order. Now you're considering doing the same thing? And from day one? Really?

Well...the article does say that Obama plans on using the executive orders to "undo policies enacted by Bush." If that is honestly the limit of these executive orders, then I guess I'd be somewhat placated. But only because I'm a loose consequentialist. If I were more of an instrumentalist, I'd probably be wondering if it is just to undo bad policies by implementing the exact same means that caused all the problems in the first place. Thankfully, I need not concern myself with such an inquiry because, in this limited case, I'm willing to let the ends justify the means (it's not always a bad policy!).

But wow, you're already thinking about issuing executive orders? No honeymoon period? No easing into this gently? I bet Barack is that guy who, when you and your friends sit down to start a poker game, raises on the very first hand. And then check-raises after the flop. Relax. You have at least four years to undo the horribles unleashed by Bush's executive orders. All this noise about "acting without waiting for congressional action" is a little unnerving. I'm not the biggest fan of Congress, but I do believe that they were granted the power to create laws.'s probably a good thing to go ahead and discuss your ideas with them. And just a final warning: the economy is going to get worse. We have not hit rock bottom. So, the more you do, the more closely your work will be tied to the recession - even if the legislation has absolutely no correlation with the state of the economy. It's just how it works, ask Herbert Hoover. Thus, you might want to go easy, early on. Let the recession take hold and work itself out, all the while blaming President Bush and Republicans. That's a sure road to glory, ask FDR.