The President has found a winning formula to push through his extreme policy views: campaign, grow support, give the appearance of action and fund raise off pseudo-action. The President is now applying this campaign tactic to gun control, giving the appearance to America that he is taking action to protect children from madmen.
The President held a press conference on January 16th explaining 23 executive orders that he was to sign in relation to gun control measures. President Obama, surrounded by children, concluded his press conference by sitting at a desk and signing several papers. But why are those 23 orders not listed on the White House website?
The President said:
These are a few of the 23 executive actions that I’m announcing today. But as important as these steps are, they are in no way a substitute for action from members of Congress. To make a real and lasting difference, Congress, too, must act -- and Congress must act soon. And I’m calling on Congress to pass some very specific proposals right away.
Vice-President Biden and President Obama both referred to the orders as "executive actions" during their speeches, but at the end of President Obama's speech the President said "let's sign these orders." In the White House official transcript it reads "(The executive orders are signed)." However, the President did not sign 23 different pages. The President signed three different orders, hugged the children, and then walked off stage.
There are three different presidential memorandums posted on the White House website. But those only direct government agencies to research and to increase communication of gun records. The memorandums authorize the DOJ and the Department of Health to carry out the research or create working groups to assemble information to be given to the President. They memorandums read, "Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:" To date, last actual executive order released on the White House website is from December of last year.
On the portion of the White House website dedicated to gun control there are a list of bullet points of actions that the President will take and wants Congress to pass. The same list appears in media outlets and on the Obama campaign -- now community organizing group -- website Organizing for Action. But actual "executive orders" themselves are not listed anywhere to read, only three memorandums directing agencies to act on three different issues.
It's a logical assumption that the documents the President signed last week were the memorandums and not actual assertions of power by the President. So, it appears that the President had his children-hugging press conference to announce action but then signed directives to his cabinet and asked them to report back in 30 days. It is reminiscent of the President announcing that he had changed his position on gay marriage. Multiple campaign emails were sent announcing the President's new-found view, but the President didn't actually do anything to advance gay marriage, he simply trumpeted his evolved position in an interview and raised a lot of money doing it.
The President is campaigning again and he's using the same tactic from the gay marriage issue on gun control. He is coming out with the very brave view that children shouldn't be killed with guns. He holds a press conference, delivers talking points and then sends out multiple emails about the "action" that he's taken to correct this injustice that plagues the American people. However, real, meaningful action has not been taken.
The American public can view the memorandums that direct agency heads to act and share information, but it will be over a month before we see what impact the President's directives actually had on gun accessibility. The real action, it appears, will have to come through Congress which makes the upcoming session one of the most important in American history.
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