Right now Speaker John Boehner's plans to sue President Obama for not enforcing the laws as the Republican leader thinks he should is a political ploy he may hope will serve to derail pressure in his caucus for impeachment, but it is one that can easily escalate because the inmates are running the asylum.
Boehner and the GOP establishment are easily intimidated by the Tea Party and other extremists who have been talking impeachment for years while accusing the President of blocking their reactionary agenda. The loudest voices on the far right are coming from, among others, Reps. Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Darrell Issa, Jason Chafetz, Steve King, Lou Barletta Steve Stockman, Michael Burgess, Kerry Bentivolio, Paul Braun, Dana Rohrbacher and Blake Farenthold. Some Republican senators toying with the I word include Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Tom Coburn, Mike Lee, James Inhofe and Tim Scott.
Success in November’s off-year election -- more House seats and control of the Senate -- could easily push that talk over the edge. If Boehner thinks his lawsuit can head off that effort he may be sadly mistaken, finding that he gave it impetus, not delay. The courts are likely to throw it out and the lunatic fringe will tell him, "If the courts won't do it, then we must."
Anyone with a memory knows it can backfire with unintended consequences. The last time they tried it, going after Bill Clinton for lying about an affair with an intern, it cost the party dearly and strengthened the president.
Jewish voters, who had given Clinton around 80 percent of their votes in his two elections, were almost equally supportive of Obama in both of his, and another impeachment, driven by the GOP’s far Right, is likely to be one more reason Jews will stay in the Democratic fold.
Will it be political suicide for the Republicans this time? Let's hope so.
Boehner complains about the lack of bipartisan compromise in the House; it’s not because Democrats won’t go along with Tea Party demands but because he does. Immigration reform could pass today with more than enough Republican and Democratic votes but he won’t allow it to come up because of opposition from his own extremists. A broad range of Jewish groups list immigration reform as a top domestic priority.
Now he’s accusing the president of “not faithfully executing the law” because of his use of signing statements, executive orders and other administrative actions. That outrage might have some credibility if Boehner and his fellow Republicans had made the same charges during the administrations of the last three Republican presidents, who used those measures much more frequently than Obama.
In fact, historically Republicans have used them more often than Democrats. The last president to use them less frequently than Obama was Grover Cleveland.
So why the tumult now? To divert attention from the Republicans’ own obstructionism and deep divisions between the right and the far right in their own party. And because screaming, shouting and suing are apparently preferable to enacting legislation that the lunatic fringe might not like.
If Boehner wants to file a lawsuit, taxpayers should counter with a class action suit of their own accusing him of wasting so many millions of their tax dollars on a frivolous political stunt, and for passing bills going nowhere while refusing to work with the minority to enact bipartisan compromises to solve the nation’s real problems.
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