Two days ago we heard an irresponsible man with too much power urge us to let the government do appallingly irresponsible things. Politicians come and go, but once their ideas become law and are made a part of government they have staying power. That’s a bad thing. Obama will never apologize for what he’s done. He has no political conscience.
It’s also irresponsible to sit back and not call out the arbiters of what the government does. When irresponsible men shape government, irresponsible things happen unless responsible men and women fight back. Republicans had a big opportunity to do just that before an international audience. What happened?
No apology for Obama’s greatest offense
Perhaps a State of the Union constructed completely of fantasy was deemed the wrong time to invoke the trust of the American people or open the door to discussing how much that trust has been violated. Obama didn’t apologize. No one expected him to. Instead, the president pushed aside the issue of his flagrant executive overreach. He fell back on a hackneyed nod to our country being a nation of laws and immigrants and made an unfair, anti-American characterization of the U.S. as a place where a “hardworking mom” can be “snatched from her child.”1
Republicans and Democrats may share the image of immigrants coming to America, but no conservative can accept Obama’s one man overthrow of an immigration system created by Congress to protect citizens (see: Temporary Amnesty: 5 Huge Executive Action Problems). Jeh Johnson, in charge of the agency that should be enforcing that system, had already rubbed our noses in Obama’s abuses earlier this month by pretending they were business as usual:
Finally, I applaud the House Appropriations Committee for the Homeland Security appropriations bill the Committee introduced on Friday. I urge the full Congress to pass this appropriation quickly, unburdened by any restrictions on our ability to pursue executive actions to fix our broken immigration system.2
What did the GOP have to say about Obama’s violations of the balance of power during its moment in the spotlight? Not much:
We’ll work to correct executive overreach.3
That was it. What went wrong?
GOP had its moment. Republicans blew it.
The tepid Republican response to our power mad president didn’t get the message out. Incoming Senator Joni Ernst’s folksy, salt of the earth recollections, a thinly disguised effort to be one of the people, was not what the moment called for. We needed the kind of thinking that inspired John Boehner to do a little protocol-violating of his own and invite Israel’s Prime Minister for a visit.
Ernst may have been supported by the Tea Party, but there wasn’t much Tea in what we heard. Instead, we were handed the same de rigueur appeal to bipartisanship that we are used to hearing from Democrats when they want to sound reasonable:
The President has already expressed some support for these kinds of ideas. We’re calling on him now to cooperate to pass them.4
Obama had already beaten Republicans to the punch. He used the same tactic on immigration, secure in the knowledge that there can be no agreement there, either:
I’ve talked to Republicans and Democrats about that. That’s something that we can share.5
Obama apologize? Of course not, so stop him now.
Obama has no fear of instigating race riots or demanding that the tax code mete out penalties tiered by social class, though his words in the State of the Union were less damning than what we have become accustomed to from previous years:
And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college.6
If the president can call for taking money away from Americans who already pay the highest tax rates, can oversee an administration that has damned America as xenophobic, unfair, and racist, and has looked aside as our country is overrun by people whose identities and nationalities are unknown, why can’t the Republican Party seize the day for a few short minutes?
Obama will not apologize no matter how much damage is done by this charade of a presidency. His only regret will be that he didn’t do more. Do conservatives and the GOP want to look back at this critical time and find they owe the nation an apology of their own for not doing more to stop him?