The big story of the day is that the Obama administration has been using executive power to act unilaterally without the approval of Congress. It’s based on this New York Times story by Charlie Savage:
As a senator and presidential candidate, [Obama] had criticized George W. Bush for flouting the role of Congress. And during his first two years in the White House, when Democrats controlled Congress, Mr. Obama largely worked through the legislative process to achieve his domestic policy goals.
But increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress.
The first several paragraphs of the article all portray Obama as making something of a reversal; of now doing what he accused Bush of doing. Eventually, in the ninth paragraph, we get the details:
[F]or the most part, Mr. Obama’s increased unilateralism in domestic policy has relied on a different form of executive power than the sort that had led to heated debates during his predecessor’s administration: Mr. Bush’s frequent assertion of a right to override statutes on matters like surveillance and torture.
“Obama’s not saying he has the right to defy a Congressional statute,” said Richard H. Pildes, a New York University law professor. “But if the legislative path is blocked and he otherwise has the legal authority to issue an executive order on an issue, they are clearly much more willing to do that now than two years ago.”
That’s sort of a major difference. It’s one thing to use the Executive’s legally-granted powers aggressively, it’s another to go around the laws of the Legislative branch–“through the dark side”, as the fellow once said. But that’s not really the impression the casual reader, or the reader of headlines, is likely to get.