Our Opinion: Beware GOP's revisionist history, reality
In the latest bit of Republican revisionist history, a president's second term is only three years in length, not four. At least if that president is Barack Obama.
By not waiting even a day following the announcement of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to go political and declare that the "lame duck" president should not appoint his replacement, the "strict constitutionalists" among the party's deep thinkers tied themselves in knots they spent the past week tightening. This assertion is plainly arbitrary, one that only applies to Democrats in general and this president in particular.
If a president can't nominate a Supreme Court justice in his final year in office, why can he or she present a budget, launch air strikes against ISIS or take any other action within that year? If the argument is that a lame duck president isn't "answerable to the American public" in his final year, doesn't that apply to all four years of his second term? Isn't the president a lame duck upon being sworn in for a second term by the Republicans' definition?
Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, the strictest of the so-called strict constitutionalists, tried to rationalize his knee-jerk opposition to conducting hearings on the president's Supreme Court nominee by asserting that the opposition is part of the "advise and consent" process. But what if the president won't take that advice, as President Obama has made it clear he will not? Then Senator Cruz's answer is a filibuster, the all-purpose response of child-like Republicans in Washington when they don't get their way, leaving the court short a justice.
The "will of the American people" twice manifested itself in their election of President Obama to the presidency. Each time, he was elected for four years, not three. The Republicans who have been experimenting with a variety of awkward, often contrary explanations for a week to account for their reluctance to deal with the reality of a Supreme Court vacancy should ask themselves what they would do if a Republican was in the White House finishing up a second term. What they would do is their job, the one called for in the Constitution.
Republican revisionist history, or more accurately revisionist reality, manifests itself in debates when the candidates blithely assert that the president has destroyed the nation without explaining how or being challenged on this blanket assertion by moderators. The worst offender is Senator Marco Rubio, whose robotic assertions that the president is deliberately trying to ruin the nation when challenged to think on his feet by Governor Chris Christie provided one of the debate season's memorable moments.
What is that Senator Rubio and company don't like about lower unemployment, lower deficits and an improved economy? Are they unhappy that soldiers are no longer dying in droves in costly foreign wars? If Mr. Obama is trying to wreck America he is doing a poor job of it.
The GOP candidates also appear unhappy that more Americans are getting health insurance thanks to President Obama. The "repair and replace" mantra common to the candidates when it comes to the Affordable Care Act also goes unchallenged by moderators who fail to ask specifics about the replacement part.
Since the drawing up of the ACA and periodically since, the president has asked congressional Republicans to join him in designing or fine-tuning health care reform. He even threw single-payer under the bus in an unsuccessful bid to appease them. Republicans prefer to sulk and pass endless meaningless House bills repealing the ACA.
The Republican candidates can't explain their plans to replace the ACA because they don't have any, at least not any that would actually work to the benefit of the poor and middle class. Today's GOP isn't in the business of producing constructive programs, only knocking them down or gumming them up. That is something to consider when confronted with Republican revisionist reality and revisionist history this election year.