MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Monday suggested the perfect response to the Republican Party's lawsuit against President Obama: The White House should "get [itself] a bright lawyer" and sue Congress for "failure to provide service"!
What a novel idea — and just in time for the president’s birthday.
“Think of all the ways the Congress has simply failed to perform its regular duties. Basically, left its inbox stuffed with undone work from getting a budget passed, to approving executive appointments, even for nonpolitical ambassadors to important posts, Moscow, for example. Isn't there a place in the law here that might be, as attorneys like to call it, actionable?” Matthews asked during the (likely) tongue-in-cheek segment.
“Isn't the U.S. Congress as the delinquent party here, again, to use an attorney's favorite word, exposed? Failure to provide services. That's the phrase,” added. “Failure to provide services is when a government official doesn't do what their job requires they do.”
Matthews continued, drawing on some strange comparison between Congress and a terrible DMV clerk.
“[E]very time this president sends a routine measure to the Congress or a routine appointment and has the Congress look at him and say, 'I don't feel like doing this,' isn't that a failure to provide services?” he asked. “Isn't it? So there you go, Mr. President. Get yourself a bright lawyer and write up the papers. If little ol' John Boehner can slap a suit at you, you can slap it back."
Obviously, Matthews’ monologue requires some pushback (but not that much as it’s really not worth the effort).
The U.S. Constitution mandates that the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed" (Article II, Section 3), while there is no constitutional requirement that the U.S. Congress vote on, much less pass, anything the president recommends or any appointee for office the president nominates. Faithful execution on the laws, of course, means faithfulness to the text of the legislation as it was passed by the representatives of "we the people," the U.S. Congress. One cannot faithfully execute a law when he is rewriting it on the fly through fiat. That is what lies at the heart of the threatened Boehner/House lawsuit against President Obama regarding his selective enforcement of ObamaCare.
To be sure, the Constitution requires of the president that he, "from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient," but you'll notice the operative word is "recommend." Congress is free to take those recommendations into consideration and act on them or to completely ignore them as it so chooses. There is no positive obligation on Congress's part to do anything the president requests.
Newsbusters also notes that Congress isn’t just a bunch of DMV clerks: It’s one of three co-equal branches of the U.S. government. It doesn’t exist merely to provide services to the executive branch.
But again, we don’t need to think that carefully about Matthew’s suggestion. This is MSNBC, after all. This is the same channel that thinks the IRS is the new "n-word”; the same channel that once suggested that someone visit unspeakably vile acts upon former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; the same channel that keeps Al Sharpton and Ronan Farrow employed.
In other words, it’s always silly season at that network. Proceed accordingly.