Via the Daily Caller, an elegant opening statement from today’s House Rules Committee hearing on Boehner’s separation-of-powers lawsuit. You’ve heard him make this argument before but he’s getting more apocalyptic with each appearance before Congress — and who can blame him? The last time he testified, Obama wasn’t babbling to activists about amnestizing five million illegals with a stroke of his pen. Today Turley calls O’s rhetoric about unilateral action “extreme” and warns the committee that Congress will effectively self-destruct if the executive is allowed to do what he wants whenever there’s gridlock. After all, in a system of limited powers, gridlock produces paralysis, not government by executive diktat; the whole point of checks and balances, he says correctly, is to protect the individual citizen’s liberty by getting the different arms of the federal government to police each other. If the president can override Congress whenever it’s at an impasse, the minority party will be forced to choose between letting the president do what he wants by executive order and “compromising” by signing onto a bill that lets the president do what he wants in exchange for a few concessions. That’s the end of Congress, and the end of checks and balances.
I admire his doggedness in pushing these points, but as he himself notes, he made this same argument when Bush was president and was ignored by Republicans. Now he’s making it at Obama’s expense and is ignored by Democrats. Odds of him being ignored by the president’s party come 2017: Upwards of 100 percent. Candidly, that’s one of the reasons I’m going to give Rand Paul a hard look in 2016. I worry about him — a lot — on foreign policy and I’m under no illusions that he’ll be better on amnesty than the rest of our pandering presidential field, but it’ll take someone who’s unusually committed to more “modest” executive power to reverse this trend. If we end up with President Rubio or President Walker or President Christie, most congressional Republicans will roll over. And if we end up with President Hillary, congressional Democrats will be ready to transition to monarchy. If you worry about executive power grabs like Turley does, not just because you hate Obama but because you fear what this accumulation of precedents will lead to, I think Paul has to be on your radar.
Oh, by the way: Since I’ve written half a dozen posts about Republican pols downplaying the idea of impeachment, I feel duty bound to flag this audio from Jack Kingston, the Republican nominee for Senate in Georgia, claiming that Congress might take a serious look at it. It’s not true and he knows it — it’s his way of impressing local conservatives ahead of next week’s primary runoff — but there’s at least one case of a GOP candidate who’s not afraid to broach the subject.