Courage, leadership, and stagecraft: These active ingredients would help congressional Republicans maximize their significant, if underused, powers.
Republicans should crawl out from under their desks and remind each other that they still control the House of Representatives. GOP senators also can filibuster (as Kentucky’s Rand Paul exquisitely demonstrated last week) and frequently offer amendments to many matters.
Yes, Democrats operate the Senate and occupy the White House. But Republicans need not endure endless donkey kicks. The GOP still has considerable influence and should muster the courage to wield it.
Republicans should recognize that Obama is not 1,000 feet tall. He is a mere mortal whose job approval plunged from 53 percent at the beginning of the month to 46 percent last Tuesday, according to a Gallup survey of 1,500 adults. Meanwhile, Obama’s job disapproval climbed from 40 percent to 46 percent. (Error margin: ± 3 percentage points.)
Americans may be getting sick and tired of a president who was caught lying when he blamed Republicans for the sequester. Obama actually proposed this 2.4 percent automatic budget cut.
Even worse, Obama literally victimizes the American people. He aims to create pandemonium that might justify his fiscal madness. Obama deliberately inflicts pain by cancelling White House tours, “due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration,” the White House Visitors Office claims. In reality, volunteers lead these tours. Obama also endangers law-abiding citizens by freeing some 2,000 illegal-alien detainees from federal custody, starting before the sequester, even as $8 billion in unobligated funds clog Homeland Security’s coffers.
Beyond the courage to confront Obama, Republicans need leadership.
House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and Senate GOP chief Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are unsteady amid Obama’s menace.
In the days before the sequester began on March 1, Boehner moaned about two now-expired bills that the House passed last year featuring smarter budget cuts within the sequester’s $85 billion reduction in overall spending growth. Rather than look back in anger, Boehner should deploy his members. Republicans on the House floor should challenge Obama’s dark vision.
When House Republicans in late February offered Obama more flexibility to prioritize spending, he balked. In short: Don’t empower me to finance aid for poor kids rather than another season of Downton Abbey on PBS. Boehner swallowed Obama’s rejection and went home.
Instead, the House should adopt a stand-alone bill that would let Obama shift money from extravagant, foolish programs to things like meat inspection, Border Patrol, childhood vaccines, and other activities that truly promote health and safety. Boehner should make House Democrats choose sides: Obama’s nightmare of padlocked airport-control towers and abandoned autistic children or the GOP’s vision of legitimate services within a fiscally responsible, limited government and a president empowered to avoid the horrors that haunt him.
Now, add stagecraft.
Don’t simply pass this bill and have an anonymous functionary forward it to the Senate, perhaps via pneumatic tube. Instead, Boehner and the House’s entire Republican majority should carry this bill across the U.S. Capitol Building, through the Rotunda, and greet McConnell and his gathered caucus outside the Senate chamber. Before flashing cameras and scribbling journalists, House Republicans physically would deliver this legislation to their Senate counterparts. GOP senators then would offer the House bill as an amendment and make Democratic senators decide if they would prefer for Obama to possess a campaign issue or an instrument for more prudent governance.
When Obama blames the GOP for using the sequester to sell stale meat, neglect the southern frontier, and unleash whooping cough, Republicans should televise vivid images of their efforts to prevent the impending doom that Obama imagines in speech after speech.
Such dramatic GOP action will make it increasingly difficult for Obama to point fingers at Republicans, which is his default posture. And that will make it tougher for Democrats to recapture the House in 2014 and hand Obama what he desperately craves: two capstone years of hard-Left, one-party, Democrat rule.
Republican courage, leadership, and stagecraft can deny Obama his dream. Let not these gifts be as rare as gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.