Speaker of (Glass) House Boehner Should Stop Casting Stones at Obama

The public has little trust in the two major parties or their leaders.

President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R) attend a memorial service for former Speaker of the House Tom Foley in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, October 29, 2013.
National Journal
Ron Fournier
Add to Briefcase
Ron Fournier
Feb. 10, 2014, midnight

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 »
TRUMP CANCELS FLORIDA TRIP
Congress Heads Back to Work to End Shutdown
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate was expected to be back in session at noon, while House lawmakers were told to return to work for a 9 a.m. session. Mr. Trump on Friday had canceled plans to travel to his private resort on Palm Beach, Fla., where a celebration had been planned for Saturday to celebrate the anniversary of his first year in office."

Source:
CLOTURE FAILS
Government Shutdown Begins, as Senate Balks at Stopgap
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A stopgap spending bill stalled in the Senate Friday night, leading to a government shutdown for the first time since 2013. The continuing resolution funding agencies expired at midnight, and lawmakers were unable to spell out any path forward to keep government open. The Senate on Friday night failed to reach cloture on a four-week spending bill the House had already approved."

Source:
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IN SUSPICIOUS CHECKS FLAGGED
Mueller’s Team Scrutinizing Russian Embassy Transactions
2 days ago
THE LATEST
PRO-TRUMP SPENDING COULD VIOLATE FECA
FBI Investigating Potential Russian Donations to NRA
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.

Source:
DISCLOSURES MORE THAN DOUBLED
Mueller Investigation Leads to Hundreds of New FARA Filings
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login