Thursday, January 17, 2013

Republicans versus reality: Obama is no dictator

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Long before he announced his wide-ranging, if hardly radical by the standards of the civilized world, effort to curb gun violence, conservatives were freaking out over what they shriekingly claimed was President Obama's autocratic rule. He was some newfangled combination of fascist and socialist, the bringer of un-American anti-values, the destroyer of freedom, the face of evil itself.

But then -- gasp! -- he won re-election, and surely four more years would mean the end of America as we know it. Republicans were planning yet more party-before-country obstructionism on Capitol Hill, but that wasn't going to be enough to stop this runaway train. Short of violent insurrection, which we know is on the degraded minds of many on the right, there was only route left: impeachment.

And it's coming. You know it's coming. Because these "patriots" really have nothing but comtempt for democracy. It's their extremist right-wing way or... nothing.

As Dan Amira notes at New York, Republicans were upping the rhetoric recently on Obama's alleged assault on all things holy to the "freedom"-loving right in anticipation of his gun control plan, including the executive orders he plans to issue alongside legislative action. Basically, what's happening is that Republicans' general Obama-as-fascist sentiment has been magnified by their pro-gun insanity. It's not just that the president is a dictator trying to destroy freedom, it's that he now wants to take away their beloved guns. When it comes to the right's anti-Obama craziness, this is a lethal combination.

But it isn't just about the guns -- or, rather, about the right's gun paranoia (because Obama is actually not trying to take away people's gun rights -- not even close). As Amira writes, it's also "the use of executive orders in particular that's getting critics all riled up." Which is to say, some conservatives really do seem to think that Obama is ruling America with an iron fist.

The thing is, as with so much else, Republicans are slamming up against reality with their nonsense, and Amira helpfully posts a graph -- see below -- to show that "Obama has used this lever of presidential power less frequently than every other president in modern times":

We've crunched the numbers, and... Obama has issued fewer executive orders per day in office than conservative heroes like George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Calvin Coolidge. In fact, you have to go all the way back to Grover Cleveland in the nineteenth century to find a president who has issued executive orders at a lower rate than Obama.

Now, there are certainly areas where the president has acted autocratically, notably with respect to the drone war, but of course most Republicans love that far more than most Democrats do. (To the extent that he's being criticized for it, it's almost entirely from the left, including from this blog, as well as from thoughtful libertarian-minded commentators like The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf.) These are the rare exceptions, though, not the rule, and the president's penchant for negotiation and compromise, even when he has the political leverage and the other side has no interest in negotiating in good faith or pursuing meaningful compromise, has shown that he is anything but a rule-by-fiat dictator.

There's reality and then there's the anti-reality these crazy Republicans inhabit. This divide is proving to be starker than ever with the gun issue now front and center.

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  • re:
    >>Now, there are certainly areas
    >>where the president has acted
    >>autocratically, notably with
    >>respect to the drone war

    It annoys me to no end how the crazy Right-Wing in this country constantly slams Obama over the most complete bullshit fake scandals like Benghazi and Solyndra. And then these same batshit crazy idiots don't have a word to say about the very real bad things Obama is doing like his escalation of the insane, illegal, cowardly, immoral drone war.

    By Blogger Marc McDonald, at 10:28 PM  

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