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Media Talking Point Of The Week: The 'Imperial' Presidency

Politico and pundit alike all have a suspiciously similar talking point this week: Barack Obama and his lawless, imperial presidency.
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Your liberal media at work.

On three separate shows, on three separate channels, with presumably three separate production teams working with three separate hosts interviewing three separate white, male Republican politicians, we managed to get remarkably identical framing and talking points.

Coincidence? I think not.

Frustrated by trying to work with the least productive Congress in the history of the nation, President Obama in his State of the Union promised to do what he could within his office to enact the agenda that he sought, even if it included executive orders. The notion that a president would issue an executive order is one that has most Republicans in vapors and the mainstream media dutifully framing the issue as megalomaniacal 'imperial' presidency.

Except...

Image from: Brookings Institute

The graphic below shows the frequency with which presidents have issued executive orders. Republicans are right: President Obama is absolutely unique…in how infrequently he issues them! The last president to issue executive orders at such a slow rate was Grover Cleveland who served from 1885-1889 & 1893-1897. What’s more, Republican complaints about President Obama’s use of such powers is a bit ironic, given historically Republican presidents use executive orders more frequently.

A few important takeaways from this chart:

  • Executive orders are fairly common.
  • Their use has dropped over the 20th century.
  • So far Obama has used executive orders less than other contemporary presidents.

So actual facts would refute this fear-mongering of a lawless president, but do we see the pundits clamoring to inform their viewers? Silly liberals, Sunday news shows aren't for facts.

But if you watched Paul Ryan, you could see that even he knew he was full of it. When asked by George Stephanopoulos outright if these claims of lawlessness rose to the level of impeachment, Ryan couldn't back pedal fast enough:

Circumventing the Constitution quickly became a difference opinion between Ryan and the president.

Notice that when President Obama disagrees with the Republicans it is a symptom of a lawless presidency. The real reason why Republicans don’t want to hear the I-word is because they know that Obama isn’t violating the Constitution at all.

Ryan was lying about what President Obama said at the State Of The Union. The president never said if Congress doesn’t give me the law I want, I’m going to do it myself. What he did say was, “But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

But exercising your legal prerogatives as the President of the United States isn't nearly as newsworthy to our "liberal" media, is it?

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