U.S. House Speaker John Boehner gestures before President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2014 at the US Capitol in Washington.
Photo by Brenden Smialowki/AFP/Getty

‘It’s not about executive actions’

House Speaker John Boehner, on Sunday, complaining about the White House:
“[T]oo often over the past five years, the President has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action.”
House Speaker John Boehner, four days later, complaining about the White House (thanks to my colleague Mike Yarvitz for the heads-up):
“This is about the legislative branch … and it’s not about executive actions.”
I’m glad Boehner could clear this up for us.
 
We talked earlier about the Speaker’s lawsuit and its lack of merit, but looking over the transcript from Boehner’s press conference yesterday, it’s hard not to get the impression that the House Republican leadership started with the answer (let’s sue the President Obama), then struggled to work backwards (let’s figure out why).
 
As a rule, this isn’t how government is supposed to work.
 
Worse, it wasn’t the only presidential criticism from Boehner’s press conference that lacked coherence. When the issue of the border crisis came up, for example, a reporter noted that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned his party that if they do nothing, the GOP will “get blamed for perpetuating the problem.”
 
“This is a problem of the president’s own making!” Boehner replied, pointing to proof that doesn’t exist. “He’s been president for five-and-a-half years! When’s he going to take responsibility for something?”
 
If the fury on Boehner’s face was indicative of sincerity, the Speaker apparently believed what he was saying. Which is a shame, because this doesn’t make any sense.
 
For one thing, blaming Obama for the 2008 law signed by his predecessor is pretty odd. For another, Obama has taken responsibility – he’s increased border security, increased deportations, and championed a popular, bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform plan that should have passed a year ago. Indeed, if Congress had acted on the plan, we’d be having a very different kind of conversation about border policy right now.
 
The president isn’t just taking responsibility in this story, either. Obama has said the buck stops with him hundreds of times on dozens of different matters. “When’s he going to take responsibility for something?” It seems as if Obama has answered that question many times.
 
And therein lies the rub: someone in this scenario refuses to take responsibility, but it’s not the president.
 
In fact, can anyone think of an instance in which John Boehner accepted responsibility for anything going wrong? The only example I can think of was an incident in which Boehner literally walked the House floor, distributing checks from tobacco lobbyists directly to lawmakers before a vote.
 
Boehner later said he was sorry.
 
But since becoming Speaker, during which time Boehner has killed a lengthy list of popular measures, leading to all kinds of policy failures, has he ever taken any responsibility for his role? Even once?
 
No matter how hot under the collar Boehner became yesterday, his complaints sound an awful lot like projection.
 

Barack Obama and John Boehner

'It's not about executive actions'