Clay Risen

Recent Articles

The Power of the Pen

Sure, the Democrats could hit the jackpot this year and take the White House and both chambers of Congress. But if John Kerry wins, he could just as easily be facing a Republican-controlled Congress that's, well, not eager to cooperate. Luckily, his hands wouldn't be tied. He'd still have the executive order to help promote his agenda. In fact, on issues from the environment to labor to abortion, Kerry would likely resort to unilateral action rather than try to wrangle a bill through Congress. Acting through executive orders would allow him to take decisive stands and to set the terms of a policy debate. Indeed, given the chances of an oppositional Congress and the fact that he would be replacing a Republican, Kerry would probably use the executive order even more often than Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did. But before doing so, he would need to take a good look at his recent predecessors, because while they have all used the executive order to define their agendas, they...