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Kudos to the Republicans

They sure know how to control the narrative.

I was talking politics with a well-informed friend the other day who said at one point, “Obama has to compromise.” That’s a favorite Republican right-wing contention right now, meant to put the blame for their disarray on someone else. My first response was to point out that the president’s signature accomplishment so far was a compromise. Obama and many if not most liberal Democrats support a single payer healthcare system (“Medicare for all”) like those used in every other advanced, industrialized nation on earth. They are cheaper and more effective. But Obama proposed a hybrid system that contained a key provision first proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation — a requirement to buy health insurance or pay a fine. It’s the system Mitt Romney helped establish in Massachusetts when he was governor there.

As I thought more about it, I wondered if presidential vetoes might provide some insight into whether a president is likely to compromise or say, “My way or the highway.” George W. Bush vetoed 12 of the bills that came to his desk. Bill Clinton: 37. George H.W. Bush: 44. Ronald Reagan: 78.

President Obama has vetoed two so far. One was a stop-gap defense spending bill. Congress subsequently got its act together and passed a full bill. The other was the “Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010”. That sounds pretty innocuous, but it turns out to be an interesting story.

The other current conservative Republican thread in the narrative is Obama’s imperial, lawless use of executive power. The Republicans think it’s so outrageous, they’ve authorized John Boehner to sue him.

(By the numbers, George W. Bush issued 291 executive orders. Bill Clinton: 364. George H.W. Bush: 166. Ronald Reagan: 381. President Obama has issued 182 so far.)

The executive order that has Republicans so upset extended the time businesses had to meet certain requirements of the Affordable Care Act. “The law is the law,” the Republicans say and the President has no authority to alter it. Well, not this President anyway. There was not a single, solitary peep from any Republican when George W. Bush used his executive authority to change some of the requirements in his signature health care initiative — Medicare Part D.

That leaves us with two possible conclusions. Either some Republicans have very short, selective memories, or they count on our ignorance to be able to get away with their hypocrisy.