The Huffington Post carried a piece regarding my appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, during which I discussed the new book that I wrote with constitutional attorney Ken Klukowski, entitled The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency. The falsehoods in that posting, based on the erroneous statements made by Jon Stewart, present an opportunity to set the record straight.
First, the piece (and Jon Stewart) says that we label President Obama a tyrant. That’s absolutely false. We never once, in the entire book, use the word “tyrant.” Beyond that, the only instances where we even use the word “tyrannical” is when we’re quoting someone else (and in each instance, that other person is not referring to President Obama). Moreover, we only use the word “dictator” once, and in that instance we were referring to Hugo Chavez, not Barack Obama.
So I never tried to make the case that President Obama is creating a tyrannical presidency. Instead, we make the case in The Blueprint that the president is creating an imperial presidency. And he is.
President Obama is exercising powers that the Constitution reserves to the other branches of government, or to the states, or the people themselves. Any president–regardless of party–who grabs or exercises powers that the Constitution does not give him is acting as an imperial ruler.
Second, Jon Stewart made the case that George W. Bush had more “czars” than Barack Obama, and even said that he got that from “Fact Check.”
Well, it looks like we need to fact-check Fact Check, because that citation–and thus Jon’s point–are just dead wrong. Going to that website, they list 35 czars for Bush, but only 32 for Barack Obama.
Oh no, we’re wrong! Oh, wait. No we’re not. They’re the ones who are wrong.
The reality is, although it’s true that President Bush did have a few czars, that number was somewhere between 5 and 8, not 35. Fact Check just lists a number of administration officials, and then calls them “czars.” But they’re not.
For example, they list Karl Rove as “Domestic Policy Czar.” In the real word (as opposed to The Daily Show world), Karl Rove was White House Senior Advisor. That’s important because President Obama has a White House Senior Advisor too, David Axelrod. Yet mysteriously, the sage scholars at Fact Check failed to list Axelrod as Domestic Policy Czar for Obama, which would add a 33rd czar to Obama’s list.
As another example, they list Karen Hughes as “Public Diplomacy Czar.” But Hughes was the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Once again, President Obama has one of those too, Judith McHale. This would be Obama’s 34th czar. Once again, Fact Check failed to list her. Once again, The Daily Show staff failed to notice this flaw in its research.
The list goes on. The bottom line is that out of the 35 “czars” listed for Bush, at least 19–19–have counterparts in the Obama administration that do not show up on Fact Check’s list, which would bring Obama’s number to 51.
Last time I checked, 51 is a larger number than 35.
And third, judges. Stewart said that Bush had more judges at this point in his presidency than President Obama has, and that Republicans are blocking Obama’s nominees. That’s not quite true, either.
First, President Obama has had one Supreme Court appointment already, with a second nomination imminent. Bush had zero until the fifth year of his presidency.
Second, as of February, President Obama’s nominees wait on average 51 days from nomination to committee hearing, while Bush’s waited 176 days. For Obama’s appellate nominees, 100% have been voted out of committee and 33% confirmed already, while for Bush only 21% were allowed out of committee, and only those 21% were confirmed.
And third, Bush had dozens of judicial nominees filibustered. Charles Pickering never received a confirmation vote, nor did Miguel Estrada. Peter Keisler never received a vote, after over two years of waiting.
By contrast, not a single Obama judicial nominee has been filibustered. Not even the ultra-radical Goodwin Liu, whose nomination continues to move forward. So Republicans have not blocked President Obama’s judicial nominees. Not at all.
There are other points to be made as well, but for the sake of time and space, these three points should be sufficient to set the record straight.
Let me be clear: Both Ken Klukowski and I are grateful for Jon Stewart having me on The Daily Show. Both during the taping and also when we were all together off-camera, Jon was a warm, engaging, and (not surprisingly) funny guy. We all had a good time, and thank Jon Stewart for having me and telling people about our book. (Read it!)
The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to his own facts. Ken and I take great satisfaction in having meticulously researched all of our facts. It’s unfortunate that Fact Check failed to do the same, because they’ve led astray Jon Stewart and his staff at The Daily Show, and even the obscure blogger who posted his error-laden piece on The Huffington Post.
But the reality is that objective research proves that the book Ken Klukowski and I wrote is true and accurate, and no amount of huffing and puffing will change that fact.