The bad news is, more candidates are announcing for the 2016 presidential race in both major parties, which makes it harder and harder from day to day to ignore the pointless noise. The good news is…OK, there isn’t any good news there. But I did find a few reminders of the deplorable state of relations between our current president and the radical conservative opposition that we should keep in mind when we get serious about the next election…sometime next year, I hope.
Barack Obama is in the fourth quarter of his presidency but the tone of the attacks against him is as detached from reality as ever: remember, the conservative extremists proudly announced on inauguration day 2009 that their goal in life was to deny him any victories, just because he’s him. Give them credit for perseverance, I suppose, even as we roll our eyes at their performance.
When the president announced an immigration plan late last year the conservative reaction that he was acting outside his authority thundered down as if an enormous dog whistle had ordered the uttering of talking points. Never mind that the scripted response was, shall we say charitably, inaccurate; former solicitor general Walter Dellinger wrote in Slate:
Even though the action is breathtaking in scope, there is nothing legally remarkable about what the administration is doing, or the legal analysis supporting it. The announced “deferred action” provides temporary administrative relief from deportation for aliens who are the parents of citizens, or the parents of lawful permanent residents. “Deferred action” is an exercise of discretion in which officials may temporarily defer the removal of an alien. The grant of deferred action in this case will remain in place for three years, is subject to renewal, and can be terminated at any time at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security. As Eric Posner, who served in the Office of Legal Counsel under the first President Bush, notes, the president “is just doing what countless Congresses have wanted him to do”—setting priorities for deportation enforcement.
That’s not even the most egregious example of the mindless opposition; how about, earlier this year, when Republicans in the Senate took it upon themselves to re-assure Iran—yes, Iran!—not to take the American president too seriously in nuclear arms negotiations.
Perhaps the most outrageous example of the attack on the president’s legitimacy was a letter signed by 47 Republican senators to the leadership of Iran saying Mr. Obama had no authority to conclude negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Try to imagine the outrage from Republicans if a similar group of Democrats had written to the Kremlin in 1986 telling Mikhail Gorbachev that President Ronald Reagan did not have the authority to negotiate a nuclear arms deal at the Reykjavik summit meeting that winter.
There is no functional difference between that example and the Iran talks, except that the congressional Republican caucus does not like Mr. Obama and wants to deny him any policy victory.
It’d all be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Wait, it is funny: