Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

During a Thursday morning appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, former Newsweek editor-in-chief Jon Meacham offered an incredibly silly criticism of President Obama’s plan to use executive orders to advance his agenda, when he picked two of the worst possible examples to “prove” his point that such a move would be unprecedented.

“We make fun of the executive orders and that is in fact something that — you know, you never really heard Lincoln and FDR say, ‘I’m going to rebuild America on an executive order,” Meacham told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezkinski. “You know, it’s not something that resonates off the tongue.”

Of course, as Meacham — who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his biography of Andrew Jackson — should know, this is completely and obviously false. Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued more executive orders than any other president in the 20th century, as this chart from MSNBC’s Maddow Blog makes clear (note that President Obama ranks last, with just 168 executive orders throughout his first five years in office).

Maddow Blog Executive Orders Chart

As for Abraham Lincoln, it doesn’t take a history expert to know that he literally attempted to rebuild a war-torn America via executive orders — including, most famously, the Emancipation Proclamation.

Meacham’s odd attack against President Obama’s promise to use executive orders in precisely the same way his predecessors did — except with lesser frequency — fits neatly with a pattern that has emerged throughout Obama’s time in office. Whether it’s issuing executive orders, or making recess appointments, or nominating judges to fill vacancies on federal courts, or utilizing the NSA, the president’s critics have become alarmingly eager to throw historical precedent out the window in the name of crafting a good political burn.

Screenshot: MSNBC

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Screenshot Youtube

Just over year before her untimely death on Friday, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared as a guest lecturer for the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, AR with National Public Radio correspondent Nina Totenberg. The crowd that signed up to see "Notorious RBG" live was so large that the event had to be moved to a major sports arena – and they weren't disappointed by the wide-ranging, hour-long interview.

Witty, charming, brilliant, principled, Ginsburg represented the very best of American liberalism and modern feminism. Listen to her and you'll feel even more deeply what former President Bill Clinton says in his poignant introduction: "Only one of us in this room appointed her…but all of us hope that she will stay on that court forever."