Monday, December 22, 2008

Obama Talks Bipartisan Unity As Republicans Prepare To Bash And Obstruct

Updated December 23, 2008 at 10:00 AM

As incoming President Barack Obama talks bipartisan unity and works to staff his White House and assemble his Cabinet, Republicans are preparing a toolbox of minority tricks and tuning up the vast right wing noise machine so they are ready to obstruct Democrats at every turn.

Today, the New York Times had an article about how right-wing talk radio is gearing up to aggressively go after President Obama over the next four years. The eight years of Clinton-bashing during the Clinton administration years may seem tame by comparison. Rush Limbaugh demonstrated his commitment to this Obama-bashing crusade today on his radio show by blaming Democrats for the current economic crisis. This theory is quickly becoming a right-wing favorite. Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly also recently claimed that the economic crisis was deliberately manufactured — not by Democrats but by journalists who wanted to help elect Obama.

After years of habitually resisting and belittling attempts to use a key House committee as a mechanism to investigate and hold the White House accountable, Republicans are saying they now want to get into the White House oversight game.

Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA), who will become the ranking minority member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is making clear President Obama will be firmly in his sights.
A day after he was formally selected as ranking member last week, Issa ousted 14 of 39 Republican committee staffers, including many senior aides. Outgoing staffers said they were told the panel's minority will shift its focus away from legislation toward oversight of federal agencies.

By bringing in aides with investigative backgrounds, committee Republicans believe they can increase their capacity to conduct independent investigations, despite lacking the majority's subpoena power.
To be sure, Republicans plan to push the talking point that President Barack Obama should be as subjected to Congressional scrutiny as any of his predecessors, and Republicans will press an adversarial relationship in every legislative-executive branch interaction in the 111th congressional session.

Of course, a look at Issa's past performance he'll hardly be interested in an even-handed approach to good governance as he will be in using his committee perch for partisan grandstanding.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, has said he will attempt to slow down the process of confirming Eric Holder as Obama's attorney general, citing lingering "concerns" about the nominee’s role in various areas while part of the Clinton Administraion. Specter's "concerns" are bogus as it has come to light that this is nothing more than a Republican obstructionist strategy being driven by Karl Rove. Ceci Connolly, national staff writer for the Washington Post, said as much on Sunday, passed on a bit of hill gossip the Sunday edition of "The Chris Matthews Show." Connolly said, "Word on the street is that Karl Rove is going to be helping lead the fight against Obama's nominations as part of the Republican Party's strategy.

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, warned president-elect Barack Obama that he would filibuster Obama's appointments if those nominees were not to acceptable to conservatives. (I'll add, by the way, that Kyl was one of the conservative Republicans who, in 2005, supported the "nuclear option," against Democrats which would have eliminated filibustering from congressional rules leaving Democrats with no voice in the Senate, period. That, of course, was when Republicans controlled congress.) Senators from South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and Kentucky, have also vowed to obstruct Obama's agenda by filibustering Obama's nominations and legislative proposals.

Remember when the Republican party was accusing Democrats of being obstructionists for just mentioning the word "filibuster" as the Republicans push a very partisan congressional agenda, particularly the confirmation of extreme right-wing judges, when Republicans controlled congress? Republicans were singing a different tune after they became the minority party in the 110th Congress. The number of cloture votes forced by Senate minority Republicans skyrocketed in the 110th Congress following the Democratic takeover of the Senate and Harry Reid's assumption of the majority leader position.

The Senate voted on 112 cloture vote motions in the 110th congress controlled by Democrats, exactly double the number (56) of cloture votes in the 109th Congress, when Democrats were in the minority and Republicans were in control. The 110th congress cloture motions were two-and-a-half times as many as the average number of cloture votes (44) over the previous nine Congresses. Of these cloture motions, 51 were rejected (meaning that Republicans succeeded in Filibustering an up-or-down vote) and 61 were passed....
With the Republican minority numbers slipping to just 41 Senators for the 111th Congress (assuming Al Franken wins in MN) Republicans seem prepared to use the threat of filibuster (cloture vote motions) to stall Obama from quickly forming a functioning administration and to kill all legislation they deem too progressive. Gee, if Republicans can make it look like Democrats can't govern by obstructing government, then maybe Republicans will have an issue to run on in 2010 to pick up a few House and Senate seats.

And then there is that old Republican "lawsuit" strategy to harass the Democrats and distract the media. Republican politicians like to campaign against "lawsuit abuse," the idea that trial lawyers are clogging the judicial system with pointless lawsuits. None-the-less right-wing groups like Judicial Watch, which as Politico notes existed almost solely for the purpose of harassing the Clinton administration, are gearing up to go after the Obama administration.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton announced his group was considering filing suit to prevent Hillary Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State, based on the Ineligibility Clause of the Constitution. This [lawsuit] saber-rattling over the secretary of state appointment calls to mind the tactics of the Larry Klayman era. [Klayman was the founder and former Chairman of Judicial Watch.]

As the group ponders its latest legal action, it still awaits a pending FEC complaint it filed back in April against the junior New York senator over a fund raising event where Elton John performed. The complaint alleged that John wasn’t permitted to help Clinton raise money because he is not a citizen of the United States.

Also, last week a Judicial Watch investigator went down to Bill Clinton’s Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., to comb through papers that had been released on account of a Freedom of Information suit. The group is looking for information to use against Hillary Clinton and other Obama appointments that were associated with the President Clinton's administration.
Jake Siewert, who served as Bill Clinton’s White House press secretary, tells Politico that they "initially underestimated the amount of damage that Judicial Watch could do through the press and nuisance lawsuits." The incoming White House will not only have to deal with Judicial Watch's lawsuits, but seemingly an avalanche of lawsuits from the conspiracy theorists who still refuse to accept that Barack Obama is qualified to become the next president.

As Alan Keyes' running mate, Wiley Drake, tells the OC Weekly, that they intend to make this issue dog the Obama administration "much like the White Water and then Monica Lewinsky controversies dogged Clinton’s presidency": will be even more so than the Lewinsky thing. I think it will dog Obama because one of our attorneys, Gary Kreep [of the United Justice Foundation] said we will do everything we can to fight this battle. If we win this case, we will keep him out of the White House. If we lose, Gary and his committee of lawyers, and many of us are supportive of this, if Mr. Obama is indeed inaugurated, we will file a lawsuit against the inauguration for being illegal and against the chief justice of the Supreme Court for swearing in a usurper. And then, typically on the first day of office, the president signs a bunch of bills. Every bill or document he signs, we will file a separate lawsuit. For every decision he makes, it’s gonna to be tied up in court.
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