Chris Matthews: Maybe Obama should sue Congress for not doing its job

Via RCP, not only is this not right, as the saying goes, it’s not even wrong. I wonder if he’s being deliberately and absurdly obtuse, as Obama was when he mocked House Republicans for “hatin’,” or if he honestly doesn’t grasp the difference between gridlock within one branch of government and power grabs by one branch at the expense of another. With most lefty media types I’d assume the former, but with Tingles you never know.

Ross Douthat tries to help liberals see the light:

Carter’s 1977 pardon of about 100,000 draft evaders, cited by Posner and others, doesn’t fit the bill. That was, of course, a high-profile, hotly-contested decision, made by the executive alone rather than through legislation. But it wasn’t a power grab, because the pardon power is obviously, explicitly inherent to the presidency (it’s right there in the constitution) in a way that the alleged power to rewrite immigration law is not. The pardon power’s expansiveness is a widely-understood feature of our system, and the draft-dodger issue was publicly debated in the 1976 presidential campaign on precisely that understanding; it wasn’t suddenly invented by Carter midway through his presidency after an attempt to pass a law through Congress failed.

Precisely. You may not agree with Obama’s Afghanistan strategy but it’d be absurd for the House to sue him over it. He’s the commander-in-chief; he’s within his right constitutionally to withdraw or not withdraw as he sees fit. If you don’t like it, express your disapproval at the polls. The same is true for Congress on immigration and health care. Those are broad, complex sectors of domestic policy, naturally within the purview of the legislature. If you don’t like gridlock on amnesty or the employer mandate, get on out there and solve the problem by electing a Democratic House or a Republican Senate. The irony of Matthews’s shpiel is that Obama suing Congress for not “providing services” by doing what he wants would actually be way better than what he’s actually doing. The suit would be ridiculous, essentially arguing that gridlock is unconstitutional, but it’d be much less threatening to separation of powers than the “caesarism,” to borrow Douthat’s term, that Obama’s currently engaged in. Does this guy really not understand that having the president step in and dictate policy when he decides Congress isn’t acting fast enough constitutes a soft dictatorship in the literal meaning of the term? And also that soft dictatorships tend to lead to hard ones? I don’t know what offends me more at this point, the fact that lefties would sign off on this or the stink of mockery that pervades their reactions to Boehner’s suit. If you’re going to own soft dictatorship, own it. But don’t laugh about it, at least. Geez.

Oh, by the way, congressional Democrats are now urging Obama to “go around Congress” and limit tax benefits for companies that move operations overseas even though Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said recently that he didn’t think he had the power to act alone on that issue. Obama himself said of corporations moving abroad, “I don’t care if it’s legal. It’s wrong.” And now, magically, by executive proclamation, it seems it’s going to become legal to punish them for doing it. What’s next, Chris?

Jazz Shaw Apr 12, 2021 2:31 PM ET