Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stupidity So Stupid It’s Stupid

Last week I wrote about President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to be the first chair of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Republicans Claim President Obama Arrogantly Circumvents American People … After Republicans Refuse to Consider Any Action Unless They Get Their Way First). In that post, I noted:

I don’t want to spend much time on the issue of whether the recess appointment is valid; the issue comes down to whether the pro forma sessions that Senate Republicans have been holding to prevent recess appointments are sufficient to actually prevent recess appointments. That discussion gets a bit esoteric, even for me. For the record though, here is how “recess” is defined by the Senate (emphasis added): “A temporary interruption of the Senate's proceedings, sometimes within the same day. The Senate may also recess overnight rather than adjourn at the end of the day. Recess also refers to longer breaks, such as the breaks taken during holiday periods.”

Like many Republicans, Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee)* was outraged by President Obama’s use of the recess appointment provisions of the Constitution. On Tuesday, she issued a press release that included the following:

“It’s astounding to me that the president is claiming these are recess appointments and within his authority, when Congress was not in fact in recess,” said Black. “These appointments are an affront to the Constitution. No matter how you look at this, it doesn’t pass the smell test. I hope the House considers my resolution as soon as we return to Washington so we can send a message to President Obama.”

(Emphasis, quite obviously, added.) Then, after discussing why the recess appointments were improper (she focuses on the fact that the House did not consent to a Senate recess as required by the Constitution), she says (in relation to President Obama’s recess appointment of two members of the National Labor Relations Board):

Their names were only put forward on December 15th, a mere two days before the Senate recessed for the holiday.

(Emphasis again, quite obviously, added.)

That’s right folks. Congress isn’t actually in recess; they’re just, you know, not in Washington and not able to conduct any business until they return to Washington. But it’s not a recess. Nope. Not even if we call it a recess. Still isn’t one. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.

Look, there are issues and questions concerning whether the pro forma sessions of the Senate or the failure of the House to consent to a Senate recess are legitimate ways to prevent a Presidential recess appointment. But I would submit that Rep. Black’s recognition that the House can’t act specifically because House members are out of town is a pretty damning admission that Congress is, in fact, in recess. Add to that her explicit recognition that the Senate was, indeed, recessed, seems to drive the proverbial stake through her argument (hey, if the Senate isn’t in recess, then what’s wrong with the timing of when President Obama submitted the nominees?). And if Congress isn’t in recess, then why aren’t the members of Congress, you know, like, in Washington, working?

Perhaps Rep. Black is confused; perhaps she think there has to be a playground for there to be a recess. I mean, nothing else would really explain her childlike whining about the process at the same time that she essentially admits that she’s wrong.

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*Oddly, on her official House webpage, Rep. Black is referred to as “Congressman Diane Black” (emphasis added). I checked the webpages of two of the other female Republican members of Congress who I would suggest are at least as dumb as Rep. Black (Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Virginia Foxx); both identify themselves as “Congresswoman”. So either Rep. Black has really bad proofreaders, is in the process or transitioning, or is trying to make some kind of point. I’ll let you be the judge on that score.

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