Presidential signing statements are bad - only if Bush did it

President Obama has issued more signing statements at this point in his presidency than George Bush. And yet, the crickets are chirping in the media and on the left for all the stink they've made about it.

According to John Elwood at Volokh Conspiracy , Obama's signing statements differ only in the fact that he informs Congress prior to the bill's passage of his "constitutional objections" which really isn't much of a difference at all.


President Obama's most recent signing statement is novel not for its substance so much as for the layers of political cover the Administration has provided itself, by (1) explicitly mentioning a forebear who expressed a similar concern; and (2) explicitly noting that the Administration "has so advised the Congress" before enactment. Noting that the Administration has advised Congress of its objections addresses one of the recommendations of the ABA Signing Statement Task Force, that the President "communicate such concerns to Congress prior to passage." ABA Task Force Report at 5. Confirming that such notice was given in the signing statement itself seems prudent as a matter of congressional relations, but it is more a matter of style than substance. Although there have certainly been exceptions, administrations of both parties (including the Bush Administration) have routinely advised Congress of their constitutional objections through informal contacts and formal bill comment letters. The Obama Administration has now taken an additional step to "paper the record" by noting that fact at the time of the signing statement.

I'm just wondering if there is any criticism Obama made during the campaign of something President Bush did or failed to do that Obama will not embrace as his own policy.

It is not that he is doing this, it is the degree to which he obviously lied during the campaign that is the problem. I've never seen anything like it. Issues as diverse as signing statements and military tribunals that Obama made political issues of during the campaign, telling people that what Bush was doing was wrong and that he would act differently.

He is not acting differently on many, many issues and the press is not calling him out on it.


Hat Tip: Ed Lasky