Before I proceed to pick on these GOP icons, I want to acknowledge that I spend a lot of time blasting Republicans in my columns and cartoons. Many readers assume it’s because I’m a commie-pinko, America-hating liberal Democrat. Actually, my constant critique of today’s GOP has more to do with the fact that I grew up in a time and place where Republicans were often the smart, sane ones and quite a few Democrats were part of a regressive, corrupt old guard.
Coming from a long-time-Republican family, I leaned toward the GOP in my sympathies and my votes well into my 20s. But those were the days when the word "Republican" was not synonymous with conservative and conservative was not synonymous with reactionary, anti-intellectual, gun-worshiping, gay-bashing, immigrant-fearing populism.
So, as a lapsed Republican, I am disappointed with the narrowness, rigidity and willful ignorance of those contemporary Republicans who claim the right to brand any Republican who disagrees with them a "Rino" (Republican in name only).
Judged by the long history of the party, if anyone is an actual Rino, it’s Sarah Palin. She has recently confessed as much, revealing an inclination to leave the GOP behind because the party lacks zeal for her list of kooky causes. One cause, in particular, has failed to ignite the passions of party leaders: the impeachment of President Obama.
Last week in a column on Breitbart.com, Palin declared, "Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president. His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, 'no mas.' "
She wrote that “the many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored,” but failed to clarify what those crimes may be. One of the president’s worst sins, as Palin sees it, is that he has made many Americans “feel like strangers in their own country.” Setting aside the reality that sweeping demographic, cultural and economic changes are far more likely the cause of traditionalist alienation than anything the president has done, it should be noted that making some folks feel excluded is not an impeachable offense. Imagine how marginalized anti-war liberals felt when George W. Bush was president.
Boehner apparently knows that trying to lead an impeachment effort is a fool’s errand. He dismissed Palin’s impeachment manifesto with two words: “I disagree.”
Instead, he and the House GOP leadership are taking the president to federal court, saying he has overstepped the limits of his constitutional role. This might seem a saner course of action if not for the political loopiness of the premise on which they are basing their lawsuit. After fighting against Obama’s Affordable Care Act for most of the president’s time in office, after taking countless votes to repeal the act and after running in 2010 and 2012 on a platform demanding repeal of the law, the Republicans now want to force the administration to put the law into full effect.
Obama has delayed implementation of the employer mandate provision of the ACA twice since 2013. Now, penalties that will punish employers for not providing healthcare coverage to their employees will not kick in until 2016. Boehner contends Obama has usurped the powers of Congress by fiddling with the deadlines.
It is an interesting legal question that a court will decide somewhere down the line, but no one is naïve enough to believe that constitutional clarity is truly Boehner’s goal. Republicans hate the mandate as much as they hate the whole healthcare law. The lawsuit is merely a milder version of the impeachment campaign; another gambit in the ceaseless effort to block the Democratic president at every possible turn.
This juvenile partisan towel fight has consumed most of the efforts of Republicans for way too long. Immediate action is needed to keep the Highway Trust Fund from running out of money by the end of August. By the end of September, a long list of other bills must be passed to avert another government shutdown. Plus, there’s the debate about renewal of the Export-Import Bank and the bill to address the latest border crisis. But all that necessary work may not get done because the House majority is too fixated on undoing the last two presidential elections.
For her part, Palin mocks Boehner’s little ploy. “You don’t bring a lawsuit to a gunfight and there’s no room for lawyers on our front lines,” she said, boldly mixing her metaphors on Fox News.
These aren’t real Republicans. This is a clown troop.