Last week, I asked how the GOP, whom Democrats used to admire for their strategic acumen, turned into such a bunch of clowns, constantly making political blunders and undermining their long-term goals with temper tantrums. It's a question we might continue to ponder as the House went ahead and voted to sue President Obama last night for his many acts of tyranny and lawlessness. Every Democrat voted in opposition, as did a grand total of five Republicans—but they were opposed only because they wanted to stop pussyfooting around and go right to impeachment. This, truly, is a party that's ready to lead.
Since this suit is unprecedented, we don't know for sure how it will be received by the courts. Many legal experts think it will be quickly dismissed on the question of standing; since the House can't show any harm they've incurred because of the President's allegedly appalling behavior, they may not have the right to bring a case against him. On the other hand, we now understand that you can get Republican judges to go along with just about anything if it'll strike a blow at the hated Obama. But regardless, the thing Republicans don't seem to understand is this: This lawsuit will be a disaster for them.
Not as big a disaster as impeachment would be, certainly. But a disaster nonetheless. It will accomplish nothing other than giving Democrats a talking point they can return to for years.
The Republican senators and governors running for president in 2016 may not have had to vote on the lawsuit, but they're damn sure going to have to take a position on it—and woe be to those who don't offer their full-throated support. After all, a majority of Republican voters (see here or here) think Obama ought to be impeached, and there's no quicker way to get yourself branded a RINO than wavering in your opposition to the Kenyan socialist usurper tyrant in the Oval Office. Every Republican everywhere is going to have to answer the same question.
And every time they do, Democrats will say, "Instead of trying to help the country, these bozos decided to sue the president."
You can tell that Obama himself is absolutely loving this. "Stop being mad all the time," he said in reference to congressional Republicans in a speech on Wednesday. "Stop just hating all the time. C'mon… I know they're not happy that I'm president but that's okay. I got a couple of years left. C'mon… then you can be mad at the next president." That kind of thing will, of course, make them even madder.
Republicans also may not realize that they've given Obama a terrific incentive to take whatever unilateral action he can on issues like immigration, not only because he can justify it with their inability to address actual problems, but because he knows it will drive them batty, making them even more likely to talk about impeachment and even less likely to look like a party that wants to govern, all of which is good for Democrats.
There may be a conservative somewhere who has objected to this suit, but I haven't come across him or her. I understand that they all believe Obama has gone beyond the limits of executive authority, which is a reasonable position to take. My own belief is that every president pushes against those limits, and the way Obama has done so isn't unusual, and certainly less egregious than the way his predecessor did. But regardless of whether they disagree, you'd think there would be a contingent of sober conservatives saying something like, "While this lawsuit is merited, it's also utterly futile and will only lead to more political damage for a party that has already done itself so much." But I guess not; the prevailing sentiment is that they simply must strike out at Obama, whether it works or not and whatever the cost to themselves.