House of Representatives: Special Victims Unit
What today’s GOP lacks in strategic success it more than makes up for with chutzpah and an apparent imperviousness to embarrassment.
Allow me to explain . . .
Make Obama a one-term president. FAIL
Repeal Obamacare. FAIL
Rehab the GOP for future electoral success. FAIL
Create JOBS!JOBS!JOBS! FAIL
Sabotage economic recovery. FAIL
Maintain Perma-War status. FAIL
Prove that the White House covered up its role in Benghazi. FAIL
Prove that the White House unfairly targeted conservatives via IRS. FAIL
Defend DOMA and prevent Marriage Equality. FAIL
See what I mean? These people are like the Eveready Bunnies of headbanging.
Their latest cry for attention is to sue the president for going about the business of presidenting in the hope that some justice-challenged judge will try to send President Obama to time-out . . . or something.
Right before the July 4th break, Speaker Boehner announced this fiendishly clever plan so that representatives of the fringier fringe could go home without being pelted with rotten tomatoes by the IMPEACH!!!OBUMMER!! faction. You see, unfortunately, far too many clueless “Washington outsiders” were sent to the Capitol, in 2010, based on wild-eyed promises to repeal Obamacare and/or impeach the president for assorted crimes against TEA Party sensibilities.
Now the natives are getting restless and wondering what the hell is taking so loooooong? USA?
So it is that the GOP is feeding this new Impeachment Lite meme to distract the hordes from their now maggoty dead horse issues—OBAMACARE! IRS! BENGHAZI!—which will soon have to be buried for public health reasons.
Boehner’s original Suing-Obama presser was brief and ambiguous. He and his Republican colleagues are apparently aggrieved by President Obama acting with “king-like authority at the expense of the American people and their elected legislators.”
Lest we forget, he sent another shot over the bow yesterday, in the form of an op-ed, on the CNN website, purporting to defend his decision to proceed with a lawsuit against the president. It never actually rose to that occasion. Reading along, it’s easy to imagine Boehner feet-up, with a cigarette and a drink at some Nineteenth Hole, tapping away on his iPad about what a lousy president Obama is.
Boehner’s op-ed is simply a wordier, rambling diatribe against the administration, lacking even a hint of what the House’s actual legal complaints might look like. It’s meant to keep the issue at a simmer without committing to anything specific.
Reactions to both the original announcement and the op-ed have been largely merciless, if not hilarious [from both sides of the aisle]. Most agree with the President that this is a mere political stunt and it has all of the earmarks of previous gravity-defying positions Mr Boehner has had to assume following deliberations with his Cacophonous Caucus. Boehner has so often had to persuade them that they really prefer a nice, crunchy carrot to a Snickers bar that he appears to be getting good at it.
According to legal eagles, one of the biggest obstacles that Boehner faces in pursuing the suit is the legal doctrine of “standing” which, in its simplest layman’s terms, requires that plaintiffs demonstrate that they have been substantially harmed by the actions of another. I, like Speaker Boehner, am not a lawyer, so, beyond that, I’m out of my depth.
On the other hand, Speaker Boehner’s spokesperson, Michael Steel—also, not-a-lawyer—is quite confident that there are no problems with the complexities of “standing,” in Boehner’s case. But, if standing is NOT a problem and Boehner’s lawyers CAN make the case that Obama’s executive actions have been substantially materially damaging, then shouldn’t Boehner and his House of Representatives be doing their job and bringing articles of impeachment instead of dithering with an eccentric lawsuit, at taxpayer expense.
See the pickle they’re in? Most of the ills that have befallen the House under Speaker Boehner have been self-inflicted and have arisen from their resolute determination not to do their job and an addiction to political theater. And this specific tactic has a potential to backfire spectacularly. When it comes down to enumerating specific actions that Obama has taken it could very well serve as a cause-effect reminder to many Americans of the House Republicans’ egregious dereliction of their own legislative duties over the past few years. Which is one reason that, so far, the Obama administration is Boehner’s biggest booster on this. They are, in some cases almost gleeful over the backfire potential.
Even Serious Anti-Establishment Conservative Erick Erickson has nothing good to say about Boehner’s grandstanding; in fact, Erickson actually had something genuinely thought-provoking to say about the whole situation:
That the House would sue the President over his use of executive power is an indication that its leadership no more values their own powers under constitution than the President they sue.
Then there’s Stanley Brand, who served as the House’s general counsel under Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill, patiently explaining why US courts are usually reluctant to get involved in vague disputes between the legislative and executive branches:
They’re not referees of political disputes, they’re arbiters of concrete action. The courts are not going to supervise a president that way. I don’t want to say it’s harebrained, but it’s close to it.
I, on the other hand, don’t mind at all saying that it’s harebrained . . . It’s harebrained! If this notion grew legs our courts would be jammed with lawsuits every time a partisan disagreement arose. “The judiciary could potentially be brought into every policy dispute between the two branches,” said William & Mary law professor Tara Grove.
As Jonathan Bernstein says:
Rhetoric aside, no one thinks Obama is acting like a dictator…. [B]y every indicator we have for measuring unusual unilateral action – executive orders, signing statements, pardons and even recess appointments – Obama appears to be on the restrained side. That doesn’t mean the administration can’t be wrong on particular actions, but the larger case that Obama is particularly aggressive is a joke because it ignores 43 other presidencies.
So, really, the proposed lawsuit isn’t just a simple ducking by the House of its responsibility to impeach if necessary; it’s a double evasion of the chamber’s first responsibility, which is to find legislative solutions to real problems.
Not holding my breath, here . . .