The President who once taunted Republicans in Congress with phrases like "elections mean something" and "I've got a pen, and I've got a phone" before signing a litany of executive orders, is now admonishing President-elect Trump on doing the same. In an interview posted this morning with National Public Radio, Obama said that while Trump would be "entirely within his lawful power" to sign executive orders, his "preference" should be to govern through bipartisan legislation.
That's something Obama said he accepts: "If he wants to reverse some of those rules, that's part of the democratic process. That's, you know, why I tell people to vote — because it turns out elections mean something."
Obama told NPR that Trump is "entirely within his lawful power" to sign new executive orders of his own. "Keep in mind, though, that my strong preference has always been to legislate when I can get legislation done. In my first two years I wasn't relying on executive powers because I had big majorities in the Congress and we were able to get bills done, get bills passed. And even after we lost the majorities in Congress, I bent over backwards consistently to try to find compromise and a - a legislative solution to some of the big problems that we've got."
Obama pointed to immigration, saying he "held off for years in taking some of the executive actions that I ultimately took in pursuit of a bipartisan solution." He was referring to a big immigration reform package that was crafted by a bipartisan group of senators and passed the Senate in 2013, only to be stalled in the House with objections from conservatives, in particular to the "path to citizenship" that the bill would have provided for many in the country illegally.
And while Obama fondly reminisces about some alternate reality in which he attempted to work closely with Republicans in "pursuit of bipartisan solutions," in reality he repeatedly taunted his opposition with catch phrases like "I've got a pen, and I've got a phone" which ultimately made bipartisan legislation all but impossible.
Meanwhile, we suspect that telling Republicans they could come along for the ride but would have to "sit in back," also didn't help his efforts to work with folks from across the aisle.
But sure, President Obama, we're confident that Trump will heed your advice on the use of executive orders and all of your controversial actions of the past 8 years, many of which were vehemently opposed by roughly 50% of the population, will remain untouched...no need to worry about that "legacy" issue at all.