Saturday, June 18, 2011

Partisanship sinks to a new low

I always knew the conservative ideologues who have their hang-ups about the 2008 election of Barack Obama as president would not let up in their criticism.
OBAMA: No more autopen?

I expect them to come up with all kinds of crazy reasons why we should never have picked him to be president, why we should vote Anybody But Obama come next year, and why we should support impeachment proceedings should Obama succeed in getting re-elected to another presidential term.

BUT THE IDEOLOGUES have come up with a new line of criticism that strikes me as being so absurd that a part of me wants to believe no logical person could possibly think such a thing.

Then again, we’re probably not talking about logical people – who are a group of 21 people who serve in the House of Representatives; half of whom are among those Tea Party-types who got themselves elected in the 2010 election cycle.

What is at stake, the great issue that threatens to bring down our republic as we know it, is the autopen.

We seriously have political people going on the attack against Obama because he, like many other elected chief executives, uses the mechanical device that can apply his signature to multiple documents.

IT SAVES A lot of wear and tear to his wrists and is a more efficient use of his time. It’s not like Obama himself isn’t dictating which documents (including bills approved by Congress) get his signature of approval, and which get the veto.

But we now have the Washington Post reporting that Obama is “violating the Constitution” by using the autopen, and that he should “commit to ending the practice” of the autopen,

Anybody who thinks seriously about this issue will realize it is a nonsense issue. It may well be more stupid than any partisan maneuver ever pulled by the Illinois Legislature.

If anything, I think what really has these ideologues upset is the fact that the bill they think should have received a live signature (rather than the autopen) is one that they would have wanted some sort of elaborate ceremony for.

IT WAS THE renewal of the Patriot Act – that measure of the “Bush, the younger” era that gave the federal government more ability to poke into the privacy of individuals out of a belief that an intrusion into our personal rights was justified to maintain our nation’s security in light of the current conditions of the world.

That bill’s initial approval ticked off the very people who ought to be Obama’s biggest political supporters. Which means that while Obama says he had the autopen sign the renewal into law because he was out of the country at the time, a part of me believes he didn’t want to tick off his supporters by giving the renewal an elaborate bill-signing ceremony.

That, of course, is exactly what the ideologues wanted. A lot of large, drawn-out political drama and tough pronouncements meant to work people up into a frenzy about “foreigners” and the threat they could impose to the United States.

They were denied the rhetoric that would excite their political supporters. So now they’re going to create political rhetoric against Obama to excite their supporters.

OR MAYBE THEY’RE just superficial enough that the lack of an Obama bill-signing for the Patriot Act renewal means they didn’t get their souvenir pens – no writing implement with the presidential seal that they could say was THE pen used by Obama to continue to meddle in the personal rights of our society’s residents.

So now, those ideologues are complaining that Obama’s actions are leaving the nation open to litigation, implying that the autopen isn’t a legitimate signature of approval. Just think of all the laws that aren’t legitimate because Obama never “signed” them properly.

Or at least that’s what they want us to think.

Of course, the White House has its own legal opinion. The Office of Legal Counsel researched a brief that says using the autopen so extensively does not violate the Constitution. This was back during the administration of George W. Bush.

WHICH MEANS THESE ideologues likely once would have vehemently defended to the death the right of the president to use the autopen. At least if it is a president who uses an “R” to identify himself, rather than the dreaded “D.”

So what should we really think about this so-called issue? The ideologues want us to believe that we are a federal government on the verge of being sued.

They may be correct. It is a free country. Anybody can file a lawsuit about any issue they wish. It doesn’t mean they’re all legitimate. Some may be downright frivolous in nature – and the conservative ideologues usually rant and rage about frivolous lawsuits.

Except when it’s their frivolous lawsuit at stake. Then it becomes, in their own words, “a debatable issue.”


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