When John Boehner says Republicans can’t trust Barack Obama on immigration reform, my first thought is to take a sarcastic swipe at his hypocrisy. A snarky headline jumps to mind: House Speaker Pot Calls President Kettle Untrustworthy.
On second thought, I’ll stick with the facts to make a case that nobody in Washington is trusted.
Let’s start with Boehner: He titillated Washington with talk of a compromise on immigration, an issue in need of reform to bring 11 million illegal residents out of the shadows, to boost the economy, and to potentially save the GOP from extinction. After hard-right lawmakers, commentators, and interest groups labeled the effort amnesty, Boehner retreated.
He deflected blame to Obama, saying Republicans wouldn’t be able to trust any deal cut with the White House. “The president is going to have to rebuild the trust (so) that the American people (and) my colleagues can trust him to enforce the law the way it was written,” the speaker said.
That’s a poor excuse. The fact is the Obama administration has deported nearly as many people as were deported between 1892 and 1997, a level of enforcement that has angered the Hispanic community and other allies. In addition, any new immigration law likely would not take full effect until after Obama leaves office.
Boehner also suggested that his caucus couldn’t trust Obama because “he’s running around the country telling everyone that he’s going to keep acting on his own.” He was referring to executive orders, a constitutional perquisite of the presidency. In fact, Obama has issued fewer orders than many past GOP presidents, and no court has found his action illegal.
That hasn’t stopped Republicans from accusing Obama of tyranny, a highly charged word that means “cruel and oppressive government or rule.”
This is dangerous language. At a public meeting with GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a woman called for Obama’s execution as an “enemy combatant.” Rather than rebuke the false and irresponsible charge, Bridenstine called Obama “lawless.”
It’s no wonder Republicans have a credibility crisis. A Pew Research Center poll conducted last month showed that Americans trust Democrats over Republicans to “govern in a more honest and ethical way,” 41 percent to 31 percent.
Congressional approval stands at a pathetic 13 percent, according to the most recent Associated Press-GfK poll, with 86 percent of adults disapproving. While the Senate is controlled by Democrats, the gridlock and extremism despised by Americans is centered in the GOP-run House. By nearly a 2-1 margin, Americans believe Democrats are more willing to work in a bipartisan fashion than Republicans, Pew found.
What about Obama and fellow Democrats? While most Americans favor the president’s party on traits, their allegiances are divided on policy. More to the point of this column, a year of scandal, deflecting, and dissembling undercut what had been one of Obama’s greatest strengths: credibility. Polls now find that more than half of Americans wouldn’t describe him as honest.
More broadly, since the early 1960s, when nearly 80 percent of Americans said they trusted government “most of the time,” the public’s faith in its political leadership has declined steadily, according to Pew, to less than 20 percent. The same trend holds for virtually every U.S. institution. In nothing we trust.
Eleven months ago, Boehner was asked if he trusted Obama. “Absolutely,” he said. You might wonder: Was he telling the truth then, or is he evading it now?
NOTE: For more thoughts on trust, please see Facebook post here.
What We're Following See More »
"The Justice Department inspector general referred its finding that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe repeatedly misled investigators who were examining a media disclosure to the top federal prosecutor in D.C. to determine whether McCabe should be charged with a crime." The referral occurred "after the inspector general concluded McCabe had lied to investigators or his own boss, then-FBI Director James B. Comey, on four occasions, three of them under oath." The referral does "not necessarily mean McCabe will be charge with a crime ... although the report alleged that one of McCabe’s lies 'was done knowingly and intentionally.'"
A federal appeals court in Chicago "upheld a nationwide injunction against making federal grant funding contingent on cooperation with immigration enforcement." The three Republican appointees ruled that the Trump administration "exceeded its legal authority in trying to implement the new conditions without approval from Congress ... One judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel, Reagan appointee Daniel Manion, said he would narrow the injunction solely to protect Chicago. However, the two other judges assigned to the case said the nationwide injunction appeared to be justified."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley "decided Thursday to delay markup" on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller until next week. But he remains steadfast in his support for a committee vote, despite Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's "pledge to kill it" if it gets to the floor.
North Korea has expressed its commitment to 'complete denuclearisation' of the Korean peninsula and is not seeking conditions, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday. ... South Korea announced on Wednesday that it is considering how to change a decades-old armistice with North Korea into a peace agreement as it prepares for the North-South summit this month." The leaders of the respective countries are also expected to connect a phone line so they can communicate directly.
"California reached an agreement with the federal government that the state’s National Guard troops will deploy to the border to focus on fighting transnational gangs as well as drug and gun smugglers, Gov. Jerry Brown said. ... Brown said Wednesday he secured federal funding for terms similar to those outlined in last week’s proposed contract: The Guard cannot handle custody duties for anyone accused of immigration violations, build border barriers or have anything to do with immigration enforcement."