Did Obama just undermine democracy? | Bleader

Monday, November 24, 2014

Did Obama just undermine democracy?

Posted By on 11.24.14 at 12:30 PM

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Boehner and McConnell obstruct; Obama defies.
  • Ethan Miller/Getty Images
  • Boehner and McConnell obstruct; Obama defies.
Last Friday I had a dandy idea for a Bleader post. The night before President Obama had spoken to the nation about immigration reform. "Last year," said Obama, "68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn't perfect. It was a compromise. But it reflected common sense."

But, said the president, the House refused to vote on this bill. Our "immigration system" remains "broken." And so, he said, he'd decided to go ahead and do what he could on his own. Obama sunk so low as to refer to Scripture.

This was Tyranny with a capital T. Make that a 48-point Gothic capital T. An embossed 48-point Gothic capital T. As one top local pundit had already noted, this was the president acting as "Boss of America," imposing his rule "by force and power." Another pundit denouncing the "power grab" warned that "when constitutional boundaries are breached, we rarely restore the lost standard."

What I intended to convey in my Bleader post was the good news that top Republicans, alert to the dire threat to essential freedoms, were organizing a crushing response.

"I say we sue the president!" said the speaker of the House.

"Why sue him when we can impeach him," said a congressman from Iowa.

"Or throw him in prison," said a congressman from Alabama.

"We want to make it clear we have nothing but compassion for the aliens who pick our oranges and wipe our babies' bottoms," said a moderate from a midwestern state, "which is why we refuse to allow Obama to exploit them as pawns in his totalitarian scheme to subvert America. The message we need to get across is that we're sending all of you back where you came from because you don't belong here but leave with your heads held high. I've met a number of illegals I'd be delighted to run into again in Acapulco."



And so forth. Alas, Friday was a busy day and the post didn't get finished. And nobody reads posts posted over the weekend. And now that it's Monday it's all ancient history.

Consider the Sunday Tribune. The libertarian Steve Chapman wrote a column arguing that Obama acted within his executive authority and suggesting his actions were not inconsistent with human decency. The liberal Clarence Page said the big problem the Republican majority in the House has with the bill that passed the Senate is that Obama likes it—which is why given the "brick wall of opposition he faces," Obama decided "enough is enough."

And wise-guy cartoonist Joe Fournier outsnarked anything I might have written by drawing John Boehner and Mitch McConnell as a couple of empty-headed boogeymen who try to intimidate Obama by making frowny faces at him.

Fournier was drawing Washington's new dispensation before it even goes into effect. Boehner is already speaker of the House but McConnell won’t become Senate majority leader until January. Yet here Fournier is cracking wise about sterile idiocy. Maybe today's political culture now assimilates new normals with lightning speed. Or maybe the new normal is no change from the old normal. Maybe this month's election—though for a few hours it felt like a tectonic shift—hasn't actually changed a damned thing. Boehner and McConnell obstruct; Obama defies. If anything's new about that, it's the defiance.

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