In an exclusive interview with ABC on Thursday, President Obama refused to give merit to Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit threat, dismissing it as a stunt.
The President tossed the ball back at Boehner, saying he refuses to apologize for trying to get something done while they do nothing. Basically the President’s message was that he will not apologize for being President and using those powers to do what is in his authority as president to do, so Boehner better just get over it.
Asked about the lawsuit Boehner has been pontificating about from on perilous high, with the Speaker saying, “We elected a President we didn’t elect a monarch or a king,” the President responded to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos during the interview in Minnesota, “I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something while they’re doing nothing.”
The point here is that there are three branches of government, and Obama is saying he was elected to his which gives him authority, albeit limited authority, to take some actions and he has taken them and will continue to take them. Translation: Obama will not be apologizing for being president. So sorry, not sorry.
Obama pointedly added, “You notice that he didn’t specifically say what exactly he was objecting to.”
The President may or may not be firing a warning shot here for John Boehner, but the Speaker is treading in dangerous territory if he cares about his own credibility, which I’d dare say he gave up when he couldn’t even get his own bill passed in his chamber.
Threatening to sue over executive action but refusing to say which executive action is pretty lame, and telling the world you are suing someone when you have not actually filed papers is seen in the legal community as unseemly. It’s an obvious attempt at intimidation. It could even be perceived as a deliberate smear tactic, as it suggests that there’s cause for a suit without having to prove merit as there is no suit, thus no risk for the person smearing (I doubt Boehner will fail to file, but if the suit is not filed, it’s rather absurd for him to be threatening it). At any rate, it’s frowned upon.
Told that Boehner claimed the suit is over the President not faithfully executing the law, President Obama declared definitively, “The suit is a stunt.”
Boehner used language that mimics what constitutional scholars accused George W Bush of, no doubt on purpose. The Republican Party has spent the entire 6 years of the Obama presidency trying to make the Bush presidency (and indeed that other Republican, Nixon) appear par for the course, by applying every huge Bush/Nixon mistake to this president. So we’ve had “Obama’s Katrina!” “Obama’s Iraq!” “Obama’s Watergate!” and now we’re getting “Obama’s Monarchy!”
Of course, Democrats don’t subscribe to the sort of ideology that lends itself to a monarchy, whereas Republicans do.
An example of the kinds of things that Republicans do that gets Constitutional scholars up in arms:
In one frequently used phrase, George W. Bush has routinely asserted that he will not act contrary to the constitutional provisions that direct the president to “supervise the unitary executive branch.” This formulation can be found first in a signing statement of Ronald Reagan, and it was repeated several times by George H. W. Bush. Basically, Bush asserts that Congress cannot pass a law that undercuts the constitutionally granted authorities of the President.
In no way would a reasonable, unbiased court find that this President overstepped his bounds regarding executive action. While Bush used executive action to give himself power to ignore Congress and the law, Obama has used it to tweak the implementation of Obamacare (within the purview of his office), try to take some action toward responsible gun ownership (something the majority of the country supports), act on climate change (before it kills the planet, which is good even for those who are determined to buy the corporate line that there is no climate change) and raise the wage for federal workers under the purview of the executive office.
Republicans will point to the Supreme Court decision knocking down Obama’s recess appointments as proof that the President is overstepping his bounds. However, the ruling makes it clear that the court found that the Senate was not in proper recess, and that was their alleged issue with the President’s appointments, as explained by Adalia Woodbury yesterday:
Either the House or the Senate can force the Senate to hold “pro forma” or sham sessions – solely to prevent the President from making recess appointments, just as Republicans did in 2011.
The Boehner lawsuit talk is a stunt designed to motivate their base and distract the press (already working!) from the historical Do-Nothingness of his chamber. It is also laying the groundwork for impeachment, which is part of the GOP plan to get out their base in 2014. Republicans don’t run on ideas or their own platform these days, but instead rely on circus tricks and shell game acts to distract the public from what they are actually doing/not doing.
The bad news for Republicans is that this is not the 90s. The White House has already ripped the taxpayer funded lawsuit. The Boehner suit is already backfiring on Republicans, as it gave Democrats their biggest fundraising day of 2014.
And President Obama is not backing down. He won two elections with real votes, and was not appointed like some by the Supreme Court. Now he’s acting on that authority. Deal with it, Republicans.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.