The two year temper tantrum
In January the GOP took control of the U.S. Congress and immediately got down to business: a two year temper tantrum.
The Republicans in Congress don’t like President Obama. I mean, really don’t like the man,and they just can’t miss an opportunity to make that clear.
There are obvious differences, of course. The biggest may be generational. Even the “young turks” in the GOP leadership seem somehow so – yesterday.
Race is of course a part of the divide. It plagues the GOP in Congress, as it does the nation. The sins of the fathers – slavery, Jim Crow and segregation – visited on the children.
The GOP Religious Right was born when mostly southern segregationists abandoned the Democratic Party after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to take up residence in the GOP, and that legacy has shaped GOP policy ever since.
Over the next two years progress on domestic issues will be next to impossible; except the care and feeding of Wall Street, of course. When it comes to Wall Street, there is no division in Washington.
But the rest of the domestic agenda – jobs, better paying jobs, affordable education and health care, the income divide, the wealth chasm, an end to the immigration wars – forget about it.
For example, the U.S. needs a new Attorney General. The AG is a member of the president’s cabinet. Used to be, presidents got who they wanted. No more.
The nominee for AG, who seems to me as well qualified or better than some recent selections, expressed an opinion that the president’s executive actions in the area of immigration were quite legal.
And that was that. Almost the entire GOP went on the warpath. And now that nomination is in Washington “limbo” – held up to see what damage can be done in the interim to hamper the president and his administration.
The delay in confirmation hearings, says the GOP Senate leadership, is because they want first to “take up” a human trafficking bill, to attack human slavery and the sex trade. Who could object? Shouldn’t take more than six hours to pass that bill and move on.
Not a prayer. The GOP tacked on to the human trafficking bill an extraneous, anti abortion provision ; and it’s back to the partisan, religious wars that so engage the many learned theologians in the Congress. And the Justice Department can wait.
This intense determination to stick it to the president has now spilled over into vital matters of our foreign policy, national security, international alliances and matters that have since the nation’s founding – and for good reason – been principally the responsibility of our presidents.
The GOP House Speaker invited the Israeli Prime Minister to Washington to directly challenge the foreign policy of the President of the United States in a manner calculated to offend the president.
A majority of the Republicans in the Senate then attempted to sabotage U.S. led international efforts to get some kind of deal going with Iran over its aspirations to develop nuclear energy and weapons capability.
The president agrees Iran is trouble, with a capital “T.” He wants to get the government there into some kind of discussion, dialogue, diplomacy to unwind that coiled spring. The GOP alternative leads only to more conflict and war.
Like we don’t have enough problems in that part of the world and elsewhere.
Juvenile and dangerous.
You can make an argument that American presidents over-reach the powers granted them by the Constitution. Obama is not the first, and he will not be the last. And you can argue that the Congress needs to reassert its role as the law maker of the land.
And it can, any time it wants. And if the Congress would pass the laws needed to address the destruction of the American middle class and our democracy, it would be applauded and honored across the nation.
But it now seems likely that what the American people are going to get from the GOP Congress for the next two years will amount to little more than a GOP temper tantrum - members holding their breath, stamping their feet, pulling off stunts and sending out self congratulatory newsletters until Obama leaves office.
This does not serve the American people.