The wheels of governance came off the American democracy wagon long ago, but House Speaker John Boehner appears reluctantly determined to heed his party's demands and make sure the wagon's axles are ground down to sparking hunks of useless iron.
Asked by reporters this morning whether he and his Republican colleagues in Congress were going to sue Barack Obama over the president's use of presidential authority, Boehner replied: "I am." But it's totally not about impeachment, the GOP leader insisted.
Rumors of the Capitol Hill legal battle first broke last night, when news broke of discussions on the strategy between Boehner and House Republicans:
Boehner has frequently accused Obama of picking and choosing what portions of laws to enforce, sometimes by issuing executive orders. That is particularly so for health care and immigration. Spokesman Michael Steel says the Ohio Republican told members of the GOP rank-and-file a lawsuit is possible, but didn't provide details.
Steel also noted the House has passed legislation on two occasions attempting to rein in Obama's actions, but the Democratic-controlled Senate has refused to act on them.
Pressed by the media Wednesday to articulate which abuses of executive power the Republicans would choose as their legally actionable ones, Boehner went vague: "When I make that decision, I'll let you know."
It was a bizarre moment reminiscent of Marlon Brando's in The Wild One, asked what he was rebelling against and replying: "Whuddya got?"
"This is not about impeachment," he said. "This is about faithfully executing the laws of our country." He accused Obama of failing to faithfully enforce the law and said he was eroding the power of the legislative branch.
The GOP's complaints about Obama's executive orders—which track pretty well with his recent predecessors' use of executive power—are myriad, but stopping short of fulfilling the impeachment fantasies is sort of significant. This is the next chapter in a long pointless roman a clef described by TPM's Josh Marshall as a "long truce" in which, with Congress and the White House at an impasse, Obama does the whole governing thing through executive orders while Republicans let him do it and assail him for it, essentially guaranteeing nominal governance while delivering the red meat that both parties' bases crave.
Not that any of this is a consolation to the thoroughly screwed American electorate, which is getting nothing out of the deal, or future presidents of either party—who will forever after be hampered by the taint of illegitimacy that a sue-happy Congress will gleefully spill wherever it can.
[Photo credit: AP Images]