In the USA there are two recognized major political parties: The republicans and the democrats. While there is a wide spectrum of democrats, they tend to pull together and their differences are generally minor and reconcilable.
The republicans are a different story. They are severely divided into mainstream republicans, libertarians, and Tea Party/religious right/ Extremist right, whom we will call, for ease of identification, the “extremist-right fringe”, or ERF for short.
The ERF absolutely hates president Obama, partly because he is an African-American and partly because he is a bright, educated democrat. They also hate all of the democrats and government.
The speaker of the US House of Representatives, republican John Boehner of Ohio, is actually a reasonable moderate republican, but he also likes being speaker While he has often tried to corral the libertarians and the ELF’s in his party, he usually has failed to do so. The government shutdown last October is a prime example of Boehner’s inability to “herd the cats” in his party.
However, because Boehner likes his job as speaker, he has to keep the ERF happy. As a result, he decided to sue Obama over his use of presidential executive orders to bypass a house of representatives which is dominated by a GOP united only in a single goal; oppose anything Obama wants, even if it is a good thing they agree with deep down inside.
After considerable research, however, the legal eagles Boehner consulted with told him that the executive order issue was a loser. Boehner subsequently decided to sue the president for his failure to enforce a provision of the Affordable Health Care law, a.k.a., Obamacare, that has to do with employer-provided health care coverage. It was determined that some employers were not ready for the implementation of this provision and Obama granted a one-year extension for them.
The GOP claims it cares about business, but in this case, they would oppose a provision of Obama that was delayed to help business. Most people saw the extension as a good thing for businesses, but the business-loving GOP has chosen to make that issue the focus of their lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which has not yet been formally filed because the House votes on it today, would potentially take years and cost many milllions of dollars of taxpayer money. Obama could well be out of office by time the lawsuit actually was finalized. So it’s hard to take this seriously and even harder to believe it isn’t a republican political stunt to energize their ERF base.
However, as a political stunt, it may already have backfired on the GOP. The ERF predictably tried to carry the issue too far by calling for Obama’s impeachment! Sarah Palin advocated impeachment recently in an op-ed she wrote for a conservative news outlet. And House GOP whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana stated during an interview over the weekend that impeachment was “on the table.
The democrats are eating it up. They are using the threat of impeachment to raise tons of money and energize THEIR base. They also know that the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the late 1990’s backfired on the GOP because when all was said and done, Clinton’s approval rated soared to 71% while the GOP-controlled congress’s approval rating plummeted.
John Boehner is no dummy and neither are many of the moderate, mainstream republicans in congress. They are painfully familiar with the lessons of history and don’t want to repeat them. But first they have to rein inl, and frankly silence, the ERF in their party, and so far, they haven’t figured out how to do that without alienating their base. To that end, Boehner took the extraordinary step of holding a press conference to state emphatically that the GOP is not planning an impeachment, nor do they have any future plans for impeachment.
That may be too little to late, since the ERF has already smelled blood in the water and is salivating over the prospect of impeaching Obama. When they realize that impeachment is OFF the table, many of them will probably start eating the mainstream republicans if they are deprived of the Obama red meat they so desperately want to cut up.
Boehner, for his part, has gotten into yet another tight spot by initially cow-towing to the ERF, just as he did in the run-up to the government shutdown last October. He can’t be a very happy camper right now.
And in the meantime, democrats are leading republicans in several congressional/senate races in the red south. While it might not be enough for the democrats to take over the House after the 2014 elections, at least their chances of holding on to the senate are increasing.
Maybe we’ll be be thanking the GOP’s Extreme Right Fringe for winning this election of the democrats…. 🙂