The Urban Dictionary indicates that a man who “shoots blanks” is one whose sperm isn’t potent enough to father a child. Trump is 70 years old so his potency may be a real issue. As the father of five children, it is clear,t hat at least at some time in the past he was fertile. At age 70, and as our President, it seems his “potency” as President may be suspect. Since Trump became President, he has issued 45 executive orders. That seems like a lot. However Obama issued more in his first month. On closer examination, Trump’s orders have generated “intense attention”.
For the purpose of this article, let’s exclude Trump’s executive order banning Muslim immigration. It has been determined to be unconstitutional, and thus unenforceable. The Washington Post reports today that another federal judge has determined that the ban is unconstitutional. This time it was a federal court in Virginia.That means that the four federal courts that have considered the ban have all determined that it appears to be unconstitutional. Perhaps more impressively, judges appointed by Obama, George W. Bush, and Carter, have agreed that the ban is unconstitutional. Thus, in all likelihood, that Executive Order will be unenforceable as it is unconstitutional.
Looking carefully at the other executive orders that have been enacted, it appears that Trump is all show,and little substance. Here are a few examples:
- The executive order regarding building a wall along our southern border is not what people think. The relevant section of the January 25 order read: “It is the policy of the executive branch to … secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border, monitored and supported by adequate personnel so as to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism.” However in 2006 Congress approved the construction of nearly 700 miles of fortified border. By 2011, under the Obama administration, most of that wall was completed. The result is that Trump issued an executive order mandating something that has in many respects already been done. What remains to be done,can’t be completed without congressional funding. This executive order, therefore, changes nothing, and only mandates something that has already been mandated, already been constructed and that the president lacks the spending authority to upgrade.
- The Keystone pipeline permit is another example of the all-show and little action that is coming to define the Trump presidency. Keystone remains almost entirely an idea, and oil shipments and infrastructure from Canada have long since been routed elsewhere given the years and years of delay in ever authorizing it. The Dakota Access Pipeline is largely complete, with a major dispute over its passage through tribal lands. It is unlikely that a presidential memorandum has any legal bearing on how that issue is resolved given that it lies within the purview of the Army Corps of Engineers and cannot simply be countermanded by the White House.
- The January 24 order on infrastructure begins with a recitation that everyone agrees with: “Infrastructure investment strengthens our economic platform, makes America more competitive, creates millions of jobs, increases wages for American workers, and reduces the costs of goods and services for American families and consumers. Too often, infrastructure projects in the United States have been routinely and excessively delayed by agency processes and procedures.” It then declares that the policy of the Executive Branch is to expedite the permitting of such projects. That was followed by two memoranda on the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines that had been denied permits during Obama’s tenure, which urges the companies to re-submit their permit applications for review. Thus this “executive order” is really a suggestion that companies re-submit their applications, without even the promise that they will be granted.
- Then there have been Trump executive orders regarding deregulation. Those were widely hailed as a rollback of Dodd-Frank, especially given that the morning that the order was issued, February 3, Trump met with bank CEOs and expressed his dislike for many of the legislation’s provisions. The actual order merely directs the secretary of the Treasury to review existing regulations and report back on which ones might be refined to achieve better outcomes.
- On Feb. 9th Trump signed executive orders on crime. Trump hailed the orders as his attempt to crack down on “transnational criminal organizations” and “preventing violence against … law enforcement officers.” Nothing in the text of these orders is either objectionable or in any respect a departure from current law and policy. One order states plainly that it shall be the policy of the administration to “enforce all Federal laws in order to enhance the protection and safety of Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers, and thereby all Americans.” The other says that the administration will seek to use existing laws to crack down on trafficking.
- Trump’s “crackdown on undocumented immigrants appears fully consistent with deportation actions during both Obama’s first term and during significant portions of George W. Bush’s administration.
- The orders on health care, on defeating ISIS, on rebuilding the armed forces—all were essentially statements of intent with no legal force and requiring no action except a mandate to relevant departments and agencies to study issues and report back.
For years we have watched Donald Trump promote himself and his businesses without any real substance behind his message. Now as President we see a lot of hot air emanating from the Oval Office, but little substance. At the end of his term, I wonder if the Trump presidency will be remembered for what he actually accomplished, or what he said he accomplished?