I don’t normally follow John Boehner’s FaceBook feed, but someone brought to my attention that he (or whoever he hired) posted this picture
His text with the photos had a few more words: “President Obama says he has a pen and a phone he can use to bypass Congress. Pens and phones are nice, but we have the Constitution…”
He is referring of course to Obama’s recent remarks. Here’s Politico’s report:
President Barack Obama offered a brief preview Tuesday of his State of the Union address, telling his Cabinet that he won’t wait for Congress to act on key agenda items in 2014.
“I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone,” he said at his first Cabinet meeting of the year. Outlining the strategy, Obama said he plans to use his pen to sign executive actions and his phone to convene outside groups in support of his agenda if Congress proves unable or unwilling to act on his priorities.
“One of the things that I will be emphasizing in this meeting is the fact that we are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we are providing Americans the kind of help that they need,” he added, flanked by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
“Overall, the message to my Cabinet, and that will be amplified in our State of the Union, is that we need all hands on deck to build on the recovery that we’re already seeing. The economy is improving but it’s in need of improving even faster,” Obama said.
Here’s the problem. Obama has people who will answer his phone. He has people who will read what he writes with his pen and follow his instructions. He has an army of them. He just gave them a raise and talked about how they all have it so rough.
As someone commented on Facebook:
Jefferson Davis had the Constitution, too. That's the last time in American history it had any relevance. We killed and buried it in 1865; its an interesting case study in organizational psychology that we keep trotting out the corpse for public viewing. It serves roughly the same purpose as Lenin's tomb served in the USSR.
Perhaps you disagree that secession is a Constitutional right or that the Constitution died at that point in time. Don’t be distracted by the particulars. I’m not blogging about the rights and wrongs of the “Civil War” (or whatever you want to call it). The point is that the issue was settled by armies and strategy, not by appeal to a document. The Constitution is useless if no one reads it or follows it.
So what real power does Boehner have to thwart Obama’s dictatorial strategy? Will the courts be timely and responsive? Will Congressional Republicans work with Republican governors and state legislators? Will Boehner point out that we don’t need to call anyone to rebuild the economy because Republicans are already doing it while Obama keeps shredding the economy?
If Boehner has a strategy, I would love to hear about it.
But please do something besides invoke the Constitution. The text can’t save us if no one follows it.