House majority throws it back to the White House.

Catch of the Day: Republican Incoherence

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
Read More.
a | A

The Catch today goes to ... well, lots of people, but Jennifer Bendery put it best so far: "In last 24 hrs, House GOP 1) sued Obama for using exec authority and 2) said it's up to Obama to use exec authority on border crisis. Ok!"

That's after Republicans pulled their bill to deal with the child migrant situation and issued a statement pointing out that "there are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action."

Of course, these are the same House Republicans who spent yesterday castigating the very same president as a tyrant for daring to issue executive orders or use discretion in carrying out the law. That, to yesterday's House Republicans, was a grave threat to the republic; a president cannot "both impose and then enforce the law, because that type of action amounts to tyranny, Mr. Speaker. Tyranny. And in short, we have no king in this nation." Today's House Republicans are begging the president to do exactly that.

As Andrew Rudalevige reminded us after yesterday's fiasco, neither of these episodes has anything to do with President Barack Obama (who has approached the presidency pretty much the same way most modern presidents have). In fact, both are manifestations of the same phenomenon: not presidential usurpation, but congressional - or, more specifically, House - abdication.

If the House wants to influence policy, it's easy; members just need to cut deals with the Senate and the president to pass laws. But if instead they want to stand on the sidelines and concentrate on being True Conservatives who never stand up to whatever goofy "conservative" purity tests a bunch of radicals and demagogues come up with ... they can do that instead. But if they do, they're going to leave the governing to others within the system.

Oh, and: Nice catch!

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at

To contact the editor on this story:
Max Berley at