Sabotage from day one
They’ve left town now, those legislators who don’t legislate, who live on the public dole collecting $174,000 salaries and generous benefits that we pay for, taking another vacation from doing nothing – well, except for initiating the first ever lawsuit against a president of the United States. They’ve left behind a country in political disarray after attempting to indiscriminately deport young migrants seeking refuge from Central American violence. They’ve left behind hundreds of hours of witch hunts chasing phony scandals.
Their lawsuit against President Obama for deferring the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act is frivolous. Julian Epstein, former House Judiciary Committee Counsel, has opined that virtually all the legal scholars in this area say that the suit will not make it to court.
A 2008 law signed by President George Bush mandates that within 72 hours unaccompanied minors whom Republicans want to deport must instead be released to the Department of Health and Human Services and be given a hearing.
Their two-year-long obsession with the Benghazi tragedy was shot down late last week when Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif) reported that the House Intelligence Committee unanimously concluded “that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given.”
Republicans’ trading the legitimate role of governing for the benefit of America’s citizens for their pursuit of the ignoble goal of delegitimizing Barack Obama’s presidency was not just a reaction to Obamacare, or calls for more equitable economic policies, or the border crisis. It began well before he was sworn in.
In his book “The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era,” Michael Grunwald wrote that the plot to obstruct Obama before he even took office included secret meetings led by House GOP whip Eric Cantor and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell in which they laid out their daring no-honeymoon strategy of all-out resistance to a popular President-elect during an economic emergency. Grunwald recalled that former Ohio Senator George Voinovich explained, “If he was for it, we had to be against it,” and that Vice President Biden told him that during the transition, he was warned not to expect any bipartisan cooperation on major votes: “I spoke to seven different Republican Senators who said, ‘Joe, I’m not going to be able to help you on anything.’”
The scheme was hatched in earnest on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, when more than a dozen high profile Republicans met secretly at a Washington restaurant to develop a plan to sabotage the new administration by what freelance columnist Robert Draper has described as showing united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies and attacking vulnerable Democrats on the airwaves. Among the attendees were several of today’s prominent GOP politicians including Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Tom Coburn (Okla) and Bob Corker (Tenn).
While the Obama people were designing policies to pull the country out of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, these Republicans were concocting plans to subvert the administration no matter what the cost would be to the country.
Political commentator Thomas Hartmann remembered that Newt Gingrich, who also attended the dinner, bragged that its purpose was to come up with a plan to sabotage the Obama presidency and that the Republican conspirators vowed to bring Congress to a standstill, regardless of how badly Congressional inaction would hurt the already hurting American economy and people.
Hartmann wrote in AlterNet, “In essence, they pledged to each other to obstruct, filibuster and block any legislation that might improve the economy, and thus make President Obama look good… (and that) Congressman Pete Sessions told the National Journal in March of 2009 that the Republican sabotage plan would borrow a page from the tactics of the Taliban terrorists … (saying) ‘we need to understand that Insurgency may be required when (dealing with Democrats on) the other side.’”
I’m reminded of words award-winning screenwriter Abby Mann wrote for Judge Dan Haywood, played by Spencer Tracy, in the 1961 classic film “Judgment at Nuremberg,” which easily apply to today’s real-life political landscape: “A nation is what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult … this is what we stand for: justice, truth and the value of a single human being.”
President Obama’s view of what this nation stands for has been spelled out in programs that he has proposed to the country and to Congress. Congressional Republicans have articulated what they stand against: anything Obama is for. Their obsessive hatred of him is palpable. It was codified again last week when they voted to move forward with their frivolous lawsuit. Their conduct shames the country.