Friday, November 21, 2014

Republicans Save Face by Sticking it in the Mud

Apparently, Republican members of Congress did not get the message last night, even if President Barack Obama delivered it in no uncertain terms: If the Congress is not going to do anything about immigration reform, then he will do it himself through executive action. Obama even told the Congress explicitly that, if they did not like what he did, they could override it with their own legislation. Obama thus finally decided to reflect what has become a prevailing opinion in this country, which is that the Congress cannot be counted on to do anything.

According to a report for ABC News this morning by John Parkinson, the Republican's seem to have selected House Speaker John Boehner as spokesman. Boehner's interpretation of last night's speech either did not, or refused to get, the message:
The president repeatedly suggested that he was going to unilaterally change immigration law and he created an environment where the Members would not trust him.
Boehner reinforced his position as follows:
As I warned the president, you can't ask the elected representatives of the people to trust you to enforce the law if you're constantly demonstrating that you can't be trusted to enforce the law.
Let's not kid ourselves. The behavior of the Congress has now devolved to a state in which most voters realize that Republicans have only one mission, which is to make Obama look bad. Trust is no longer part of the equation. Obama has spent the better part of the last six years trying to develop trust-building strategies. The Republicans have thrown them all back in his face, often soiling them in the obvious way in the process.

When the country was stuck in the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt used to say that doing anything, even if it later turned out to be a mistake, was better than doing nothing at all. Obama even admitted that his executive action might not be entirely on the mark. That is why he invited Congress to come up with a better alternative. However, if Boehner's behavior is representative, it would appear that, at least on the Republican side of the aisle, slinging mud is preferable to taking substantive action.

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