We all mourn the death of former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, a great senator and statesman. And, no doubt, before his passing, Howard Baker mourned the death of the Republican Party he once knew and led so well. It ain’t the same party anymore.
Think about it. Republicans used to rail against judicial activism. Today they demand and celebrate it, as practiced by the Roberts Court. Under George W. Bush, Republicans used to champion immigration reform. Today they won’t even bring it up for debate and vote in the House. Republicans used to be against frivolous lawsuits, too. That’s why we needed “tort reform.” But they no longer feel that way. Today they file their own frivolous lawsuits, then brag about them.
Witness John Boehner’s pitiful attempts to justify what is definitely one of the most frivolous lawsuits ever: his plan to sue the president of the United States for, says Boehner, exceeding his executive authority. Which is all the more outrageous when you consider that, by anyone’s account, this 113th Congress, under Boehner’s leadership or lack thereof, has been the most “Do-Nothing” Congress in history. So now, having led Congress to do nothing, Boehner plans to sue the president for doing something – and force taxpayers to pay for it.
Writing on CNN’s website, Boehner tried to defend his lawsuit on two grounds. First, he argues, “In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws when it comes to a range of issues, including his health care law, energy regulations, foreign policy and education.” What nonsense! Granted, that may be Boehner’s “view,” but that doesn’t make it true.
Perhaps you noticed that Boehner does not name one single case of Obama’s failure to carry out the law. On health care, maybe the speaker forgot that Obamacare, even though he may not like it, is the law of the land, upheld by the Supreme Court. On energy, maybe nobody told him that Obama’s regulations on carbon emissions, issued through the Environmental Protection Agency, have also been ratified by the Supreme Court. On foreign policy, maybe Boehner doesn’t realize that by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and refusing to send troops to Syria, Obama was simply exercising his authority as commander in chief, while reflecting the views of the vast majority of Americans.
No. None of the above. The truth is, Boehner doesn’t cite one specific example of Obama’s failure to execute the law for one simple reason: Because he can’t.
Boehner also accuses Obama of signing too many executive orders, which, again, is pure nonsense. The fact is, Obama has signed far fewer, and far less significant, orders than many former presidents. According to the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara, President Obama has signed 182 so far, compared to George W. Bush’s 291 – or FDR’s total of 3,522. And while Bush used an executive order to authorize the use of torture, and FDR acted to order the internment of Japanese-American citizens, Obama’s toughest executive order was to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors, which hardly merits a lawsuit. But, again, the only reason Obama’s signed even one executive order is because the Republican-controlled House refuses to do its job.
If you thought everybody would dismiss Boehner’s idea of suing the president as too extreme, think again. There’s a growing list of Republicans, led by Sarah Palin, the intellectual leader of the Republican Party, who insist it’s not extreme enough. Palin accuses Boehner of chickening out by filing a lawsuit against Obama, instead of impeaching him. “You don’t bring a lawsuit to a gunfight,” she argues. And, as proof that extremists have taken over the Republican Party, her call for impeachment has been echoed by Republican Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., as well as Republican Reps. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., Michael Burgess, R-Texas, and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
So, Sarah Palin wants to impeach Obama, Boehner wants to sue him. They’re both wrong. Bottom line is, Republicans can’t continue to refuse to take action on anything, while attacking the president for taking action on some things. Everybody recognizes Boehner’s lawsuit for what it is: a cheap political stunt to mask the House’s embarrassing lack of action on immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance, renewing the Highway Trust Fund, or a host of other pressing issues.
Instead of suing the president for doing his job as president, we’d all be better off if John Boehner would just do his job as speaker.