Gone Fishing

Gone Fishing

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

It really is quite a Government that is running this country at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue! Congress went into a planned five week recess—actually its congressional campaign season getting into high gear—looking at one of the most appalling records of non-accomplishments of any Congress in recent memory. Ironically, the fact that they did not need to address any critical budgetary or fiscal issues until after the election, left them without even that hysterical pre-recess ritualistic spectacle for the American public to endure.

With the President himself scheduled to begin a 15 day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard on August 9, he only needs to run the country from the Vineyard and does not have to campaign. (Presumably, he will not do any campaign stumping until after Labor Day and really not until after Congress adjourns at the end of September.)

What is pathetic is that there was no sense of urgency on the part of either the Legislature or the Executive branches that perhaps political posturing and name calling is not a euphemism for governing. All there were speeches, some humor, and frustration.  While they did address the tragic mismanagement which had developed in the Department of Veterans Affairs, they found no compelling need to fund increase border surveillance—at a minimum—to address one part of the mushrooming immigration issue. While they were unwilling to address the substantive issues of immigration reform until next January, it would have demonstrated some sense of responsibility on the part of the Congress—both chambers and the White House–if it could have begun to address what all are calling a humanitarian crisis.  Here they could have dealt with the border security issue on which there is general agreement on philosophy, but Congress got itself bogged down in how much security, for what price, and how to pay for it.

What the House of Representatives did achieve as a result of the brilliant and courageous leadership of Speaker Boehner was to fund a congressional law suit against the President’s misuse of executive power. Republicans in the House agreed to spend monies to mount a law suit against the President, but not to impeach him; despite the fact that reports suggested that over 50% of Republican supporters want him impeached.  The House leaders placated their backers by litigating the President knowing full well that they have no case at all to charge the President with “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

The sad thing for the country is that the Constitution does provide a mechanism for addressing presidential malfeasance and the Founding Fathers did not want it to be operationalized nonchalantly. Appreciating this, the Republicans injected a farcical issue—taking the President to court—during the fall campaign season.  It will be very interesting to watch which party can best distract the public when it votes in November from holding Congress accountable for its appalling failure to govern the nation. 

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