It's as if nobody follows the rules anymore

Having Congress invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak is, as we have discussed before, obviously the end of civilization as we know it. (In fact, God is clearly about to punish us by unleashing an historic blizzard on the evil Northeast corridor.) At Politico, David Roger wonders how things ever went so wrong and what ever happened to the normal rules of order in a civil society?

[T]he sequence of events does capture how much the normal courtesies between this White House and Congress have deteriorated — even in front of guests from another country.

“There appear to be no rules anymore. If you can do it, do it,” said Patrick Griffin, who recalls nothing quite like this even in the tempestuous times Griffin served as White House liaison between President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), herself a former speaker who oversaw similar joint meetings for foreign guests, said the management of the invitation was “inappropriate” and Boehner risks squandering his power in a fit of “hubris.”

Our Red State colleague Erick Erickson sees this is a fairly predictable outcome.

For the last four years, Democrats have championed the President more and more going it alone. They have watched the President overstep the boundaries of his authority on Obamacare changes, on amnesty, and virtually anything else that suits him.

The Democrats have been apologists for the IRS, for the EPA, and for every other erosion of liberty by the Obama White House.

Only now, when Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) invites an ally to speak before Congress are people crying foul.

In the context of this discussion, it’s important to remember the distinction between rules and laws. And even beyond that, the fact that even rules have a certain definition, and what we’re really talking about here are traditions. It’s not as if either the White House or John Boehner are breaking any laws by sending out an invite to have somebody speak. Talking to the other, allegedly co-equal branch of government as part of the planning process is a courtesy, not a federal law.

But it’s worth noting that what Erickson is really pointing out in his opinion piece is that the branches aren’t really co-equal any more, or at least not in the eyes of the White House. This is nothing new, sadly, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable. The Speaker can’t order Barack Obama to hold a summit with foreign leaders at Camp David, and we’ve never seen the House even attempt it. (They can suggest it if they like, and have done so in the past, but they don’t just start ordering plane tickets on their own.) But for some reason, the White House seems to feel that they should have the right of first refusal if the Legislative branch gets the urge to have someone over for a chat.

This ties back into the pattern which Erickson identifies. Obama is not the first to flex the ever expanding muscle of the White House, but he certainly seems to take a certain glee in doing so. And in the case of rewriting the rules of Obamacare, executive amnesty and others, one could argue that he’s not simply breaking with tradition, but with the Constitution. It’s difficult to pin too much blame on the House for failing to follow traditions of civility if the President won’t even follow the actual laws.

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