Since it became apparent that President Obama was about to (and did, last night) usurp the legislature’s authority to write and amend our laws, Republicans and conservatives (and some liberals) have been bandying around several strategies to fight back: some form of defunding, censure, even impeachment.
Writing at Ace of Spades, Drew M. adds a symbolic but very powerful idea: do not let Obama give his State of the Union address before the joint houses of Congress.
There’s one idea I’d like to add that is in many ways symbolic but that would focus the nation on the seriousness of this problem, do not invite Obama to address a joint session of Congress to deliver the State of the Union address.
The Constitution simply requires that “He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Nothing requires that he do so in person. The modern in person State of The Union dates back to Woodrow Wilson but Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon all gave written reports as was the custom from Thomas Jefferson to Wilson.
And Presidents don’t simply show up whenever they please to address the Congress, they must be formally invited. That’s where Boehner and McConnell can strike a blow for the legislature…simply don’t invite him.
Yesterday, Boehner said, “The president had said before that he’s not king and he’s not an emperor,” Boehner says. “But he’s sure acting like one.”
There’s a reason for the reference to the behavior of kings: it’s a part of our history, dating back at least to the crises that gave rise to the English Civil War. In 1642, King Charles I attempted to usurp the powers of the House of Commons by barging in with soldiers to arrest five members. In commemoration of this, the House of Commons slams the doors in the face of Black Rod when he comes to summon them to hear the Queen’s Speech. Nowadays, this is just a ceremonial tradition, a reminder of the Commons’ independence from the Crown.
It is also an echo of a very real crisis.
We are England’s heirs, and Congress is facing its own crisis with an arrogant, usurping Executive. Let Speaker Boehner and (soon to be) Majority Leader McConnell reach deep back into our history and, along with more substantive actions, assert the legislature’s rights as a co-equal branch of government. Refuse our modern King Charles the stage his ego so desperately needs (1).
It’s time to bar the doors.
via Gabriel Malor
(1) Come on, you know Obama’s ego is so brittle that this would drive him nuts. As a narcissist, he craves a stage from which to lecture his inferiors.