This Republican President has many tools at his disposal. Both Houses of Congress. Friends in high places. The unconditional support of rural America. His family. A supermodel to hold his hand. Or not. Twitter. Fox News. And increasingly ... Executive Orders. Along with Executive Determinations, Memorandums, Proclamations, Suggestions, Aspersions, Insinuations, Innuendos and Doodles.
An Executive Order has traditionally been an official Commander-in-Chief shortcut to impose instant regulations or reinforce policy, with the extra-added attraction of bypassing the tortuous labyrinths of Congress. Any day without talking to Mitch McConnell has got to be considered a victory.
E.O.s can be historic, like the Emancipation Proclamation. They can be pure patronage, such as appointing a friend to a federal post. Some are downright frivolous, as when Woodrow Wilson declared hunting with a "lantern, torch, bonfire or other artificial light" a misdemeanor--an admirable attempt to level the playing field short of giving guns to deer.
They go back to our nation's Beta Start-Up phase. George Washington issued eight, while John Adams wrote one more than William Henry Harrison. Harrison issued a grand total of none, having spent his thirty-one-day presidency trying, unsuccessfully, to recover from the pneumonia he contracted while giving a three-hour inaugural speech in the rain. Apparently he was not a fan of the cutting-edge technology then known as the umbrella.
The first 150 or so E.O.s weren't numbered. But in 1907, Abraham Lincoln's "Executive Order Establishing a Provisional Court in Louisiana," issued in 1862, was retroactively recorded as Executive Order #1. There have been 13,801 since. Enough that you wouldn't want to carve them into stone and carry them around in a backpack.
FDR issued 3,721 Executive Orders, or an average of more than 300 per annum over his twelve-year run. But historians generally agree events back then teetered on the edge of hectic, what with a capital D Depression and a world war going on and all. Not to mention gangsters aplenty roaming the Midwest and Judy Garland terrorizing sound stages all over the greater Los Angeles basin.
During the recent presidential campaign, Donald Trump derided Barack Hussein Obama's dependence on Executive Orders, accusing the...