Executive Ordure 

Much more ado about nothing

Ulysses S. Grant--217

Grover Cleveland--253

William McKinley--185

I recently returned a call to a woman I didn't know. I don't often return calls to strangers, and the reason I don't is because I am mortal. My days, like yours, are numbered. And nearly every time I make the mistake of returning such a call, it results in another chunk of whatever time I have left, listening to another person who was compelled to tell me about a brand-new, brilliant idea that turned out to be neither brand-new nor brilliant, and a large part of the time wasted is me trying to cough up a nice way of telling them that.

But this lady had indicated she had something urgent to discuss, so I called the number she'd sent along, only to find that she was upset over a quote that was used on the bottom of a recent Boise Weekly's cover page. The quote had been lifted from my column inside, and it started with this: Whenever I feel like I have pissed off enough Republicans and called enough conservatives stupid for one day...

Theodore Roosevelt--1,081

Woodrow Wilson--1,803

Calvin Coolidge--1,203

She wanted to know, what with all the troubles and division facing America, why I would want to piss off Republicans and call conservatives stupid? I asked her if she had ever read my columns, curious as to why this particular item should disturb her so greatly when I have a surplus of other columns in which the words "stupid" and "conservative" are virtually interchangeable.

She answered that she understood I am a liberal, and as such, was entitled to have a differing opinion or two. But she insisted it is time for unity of purpose, as she is more alarmed for our liberties now than ever because of these outrageous executive orders coming from the presidency of Barack Obama.

Herbert Hoover--968

Franklin D. Roosevelt--3,522

Harry Truman--907

It seems members of the church she attends have been telling her there is something unusual, and obviously sinister, about what this president has been doing with the powers legally granted him. She has had her head filled with visions of impending direness ranging from tyranny to the End Times, and she had reached a point where she felt she had to do something about it--such as contacting me to suggest that I shouldn't be pissing off Republicans or calling conservatives stupid.

"Ma'am," I said, "are you aware that the number of executive orders issued by Obama pales in comparison to those issued by other presidents?" She said, "No, I hadn't heard that."

Dwight D. Eisenhower--484

John F. Kennedy--214

Lyndon B. Johnson--325

I told her it was easy to confirm, that Obama's executive orders are perfectly in line with presidential behavior going back to the beginnings of the country, but then the conversation expanded like a dozen eggs falling out of the grocery bag in the parking lot. The foundation for her fears, Obama turning into a despicable despot by taking executive actions, was never revisited, and I was denied the opportunity to tell her that if she was going to allow the pee-wadding to be frightened out of her, then perhaps she should find out a little more about what was frightening her so.

But that would take all the fun out of it for conservatives, wouldn't it? What pleasure or political gain could be gained from denouncing him as King Obama... Imperial Obama... Hitler Obama... let alone the thrill of impeaching Obama... if the historical reality was common knowledge among Obamaphobes that he is taking no more executive action than every president before him, and a hell of a lot less of it than many of them.

Richard Nixon--346

Jimmy Carter--320

Ronald Reagan--381

And all the stupid conservatives have to do, before they go screeching around like hysterical Fox News fools, terrifying church ladies and Posse Comitatus secessionist militia Second Amendment monkeys and brain-dead Dixie Congressmen too dumb or too dishonest to verify the offal issuing from their own mouths--is look it up. It took me five minutes. I believe the search words I used were "Executive Orders of U.S. Presidents" and voilá, there they were, from Washington to Obama, not just the ones I have interspersed herein.

Had I had the presence of mind to think about something other than my own desire to get out of that conversation as quickly as possible, I might have told the kind lady (and she is a kind lady, so don't get me wrong about that) that there can be no unity of purpose among Americans until we establish a unity of facts--a core of reality we can all agree on. But that seems unlikely, doesn't it?... when there is such a thriving industry profiting from the distortion of everything honest people know to be true.

Bill Clinton--217

George W. Bush--291

Barack Obama--139, to date.

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