North of the normally frozen 49th parallel, summer reaches its apogee, often baking the brains of public figures just well enough to justify calling this the silliest season of the year. On the other hand, when it comes to official foolishness, we don’t dare hold a candle to the Americans.
Last week, in the land of the Star-Spangled Banner, Congressional Republicans voted in favour of suing President Barack Obama for allegedly trampling the Constitution during his campaign to ram healthcare reforms down the gullets of unwitting citizens, (which would be, presumably, their preferred take on the matter).
“This administration has effectively rewritten the law without following the constitutional process,” GOP Representative Pete Sessions was quoted as saying to Washington reporters following the 225-201 vote, in which only five Republicans demurred and not a single Democrat assented.
According to a Reuters account, “The suit is expected to claim that Obama, a Democrat, exceeded his executive authority in making unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Republicans argue that by delaying some healthcare coverage mandates and granting various waivers, he bypassed Congress in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
Indeed, over the past six years, the GOP has made as much mischief for the president as is democratically possible. But this is the first time in history when members of Congress have actually sought redress for their complaints with the Executive branch of government through civil litigation.
But that’s not even the most absurd aspect of the affair. This is: The Republicans are suing over changes to Obamacare that they, themselves, demanded the president make back in October.
“Obama, himself, tweaked Republicans on Wednesday,” CNN reported last week. “In Kansas City, Missouri, he noted the House was about to leave Washington for the month of August, but ‘the main vote that they have scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job.’”
In one sense, though, the threat of a lawsuit is a more logical avenue to go down than that other, more common expression of opprobrium: impeachment. The Republicans know that they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of stick-handling that result. They don’t have the votes in the Senate.
Still, according to a CNN analysis, “The issue resonates with Democratic supporters, according to Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The group has raised $7.6 million online since Boehner announced the lawsuit plan just over five weeks ago, he said. ‘You bet we’re going to run on a Congress that is just obsessed with lawsuits, suing the President, talking about impeaching him instead of solutions for the middle class, talking about jobs and infrastructure,’ he said.”
All of which fuels the U.S. public’s thoroughly unalloyed disgust with politics in general. “Americans are finding little they like about President Barack Obama or either political party, according to a new poll that suggests the possibility of a ‘throw the bums out’ mentality in next year’s midterm elections,” an Associated Press story declared last fall. “The AP-GfK poll finds few people approve of the way the president is handling most major issues and most people say he’s not decisive, strong, honest, reasonable or inspiring.”
Meanwhile, “In the midst of the government shutdown and Washington gridlock, the president is faring much better than his party, with large majorities of those surveyed finding little positive to say about Democrats. The negatives are even higher for the Republicans across the board, with 4 out of 5 people describing the GOP as unlikeable and dishonest and not compassionate, refreshing, inspiring or innovative.”
So much grist, so little time to mill up here in Canada where we try vainly to compete for scandal mongering with the Joneses south of us.
Alas, notwithstanding the Conservative caucus of Stephen Harper – the fetishistic attraction for control, the militancy, the coarse name-calling that passes for principled debate – we just don’t seem to have what it takes.
Not, at least, like the Yanks.