The Blog

Video: Obama's Empty Pledge to End Signing Statements

7:59 PM, Mar 12, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

John Henke posts this video of Obama saying on the campaign trail that as president he would end George W. Bush's practice of attaching "signing statements" to bills he was signing into law.

Obama, God love him, used his impressive rhetorical ability on the stump to make a rather dull and dry topic like signing statements seem particularly nefarious. He said at the campaign rally:

What George Bush has been trying to do as part of his effort to accumulate more power in the presidency is he's been saying 'well I can basically change what Congress passed by attaching a letter saying I don't agree with this part or I don't agree with that part. I'm gonna chose to interpret it this way or that way.' That's not part of his power.

But this is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he's going along. I disagree with that. I taught the constitution for 10 years. I believe in the constitution, and I will obey the Constitution of the United States.

We're not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress.

Barack Obama issued his first signing statement yesterday, but he attached a memorandum "intended to suggest a sharp break with President Bush's practice-and a compliant media has largely adopted that line-but the reality is, appropriately, one of substantial continuity," writes Ed Whelan at NRO's Bench Memos blog. If you want to know just how extensive the continuity between Bush and Obama is, read Whelan's entire post.