When it came to dodging the truth, Bill Clinton was legendary. During his 1998 grand jury testimony on the Monica Lewinsky affair, he famously declared, “It depends on what the meaning of the words ‘is’ is” and “It depends on how you define alone.” When he was still a candidate in 1992 and caught out for having used marijuana while studying in England, his defense was “I didn’t like it, and I didn’t inhale.”
That didn’t prevent him from going on to win election to the highest office in the land. Ditto for a man who makes Clinton’s dissembling look like child’s play.
The big difference between Clinton’s dishonesty and Barack Obama’s is that Clinton never aspired during his run for the presidency to “change the way things work in Washington.” Obama did make that promise — and in a perverse way he has kept it: Washington is now far more cynical and bitterly divided than it’s ever been … and so is the country.
Obama’s lies are also legendary, if far more pervasive than Clinton’s. A report at USA Today settles an age-old question of whether Obama has signed more executive orders than any predecessor. His defenders have long claimed that he hasn’t, while conveniently overlooking the scope of his executive actions, which in many cases have bordered on rampant lawlessness.
But according to USA Today author Gregory Korte, the question of whether he’s signed more executive orders — technically he has not — boils down to misdirection: to smoke and mirrors. In the last analysis, Obama has far surpassed his predecessors by issuing a form of executive action known as the presidential memorandum. Writes Korte:
Like executive orders, presidential memoranda don’t require action by Congress. They have the same force of law as executive orders and often have consequences just as far-reaching. And some of the most significant actions of the Obama presidency have come not by executive order but by presidential memoranda.
He’s already signed 33% more presidential memoranda in less than six years than Bush did in eight. He’s also issued 45% more than the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who assertively used memoranda to signal what kinds of regulations he wanted federal agencies to adopt.
Of course, apart from own his power grabs, Obama earns extra demerits when it comes to executive action for being so two-faced back when he was a U.S. Senator. Here is what he told CNN’s Larry King about George W. Bush’s use of executive privilege:
There’s been a tendency, on the part of this administration, to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky that’s taking place. I think the administration would be best served by coming clean on this.
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