In an email three weeks back, our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, urged constituents to send in their questions about the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, to help the Tea Party-backed House Select Committee on Benghazi in “getting to the bottom of what happened.” We already have a good understanding of what happened at Benghazi, as this blog pointed out in December. Serious errors were committed — no one denies it — but there was no deep dark scandal, and no cover-up, as Reed and the Tea Party would have us believe.
In June, U.S. troops and law enforcement personnel, acting on President Obama’s orders, conducted an operation in Libya that captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a prime suspect in the attacks. Khatallah’s capture, the President said, sends “a message to the world: when Americans are attacked, no matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible and bring them to justice.” Khatallah is currently awaiting trial in Manhattan.
The President’s decisive action highlights the reason the Tea Party so fears him. While they dither and posture, organizing stunts like the Benghazi hearings, President Obama continues to do all he can, in the face of a do-nothing and obstructive House of Representatives, to deal with the problems confronting the nation.
While Republicans have busied themselves in shutting down the government and bringing the nation to the brink of a debt default, the President has fought for jobs and economic growth. Yesterday, news came that the rate of economic growth surged to 4 per cent in the second quarter in 2014. Unemployment is at 6.1 per cent, the lowest since September 2008.
While Republicans in the House were voting more than 50 times to repeal or cripple the Affordable Care Act, President Obama was hard at work extending health insurance to millions of Americans, including 8 million newly enrolled through the health insurance exchanges and 3 million who signed up for Medicaid.
Obama’s continuing efforts to strengthen the economy and help middle class Americans prompted House Republicans to launch a new political stunt yesterday. They passed a resolution authorizing Speaker Boehner to sue the President for slowing implementation of various deadlines in Affordable Care Act. Obama took these actions primarily to give businesses more time to adjust to the terms of the act. Boehner plans to sue the President for giving businesses a break.
This makes sense only if we recognize that the resolution is just another political stunt — one backed, like the Benghazi stunt, by Rep. Tom Reed. Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York’s 28th pointed out that this particular political stunt is timed to peak in November when the suit is likely to be before the courts. That will be red meat for the Tea Party and may boost Republican turnout.
Rep. Slaughter notes that even conservative legal scholars doubt that the courts, traditionally reluctant to involve themselves in disputes between Congress and the executive, will grant the Speaker standing. They may point out that the Constitution grants another means to Congress to stop alleged abuses by the President. That means is impeachment.
Boehner is trying, with mixed success, to stop Republicans from discussing impeachment at the moment. But if the suit is thrown out and Republicans retain control of the House in the November elections, the Tea Party will be in full cry for impeachment in 2015. Their contempt for the President is so great that they will not care about the divisiveness of the impeachment threat, nor about the inevitable distraction from the important business before the nation.
The remedy for political stunts such as this is simple. Voters must elect a Democratic House of Representatives in November. The lawsuit will evaporate and irresponsible talk of impeachment will end — two more reasons for voters in New York’s 23rd to elect Martha Robertson.