Earlier this week, I discussed why any serious issue John Boehner can sue the President over spells electoral backlash for Republicans. But the election year political backlash, it seems, has started well before a lawsuit has even been filed.
In a political party, there is nothing more effective in lighting a fire under the bottoms of the rank and file than for them to truly feel like their party is under politically motivated attack from their political nemesis. And when that happens, the attack blows up in the opponents' face, just as it has begun to do after Boehner unveiled his plan to sue the President over use of executive authority as the DCCC hauled in their largest one-day fundraising total of the year.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posted its best fundraising day of the year on Wednesday, bringing in $584,000, according to figures shared with POLITICO. [...]
That figure is $100,000 more than the DCCC’s previous record one-day haul for the year, which occurred back in February when it was announced House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would release a 2015 budget plan.
As the DCCC graphic above indicates, that number is rushing to an over-$1-million 3-day total.
For those of us who have been paying attention, the Republican scorched earth policy of attacks against the president did not begin on Monday. The GOP has been trying to pin made-up scandal after made-up scandal on the president with the help of the media. You cannot blow a feather in DC and not hit a Republican screaming about the phantom IRS "scandal", or their favorite 'gotcha' against Obama, Beghaziiiiii. Democrats have known for a while that has walked around with a target on his back since the day he became a viable candidate for president.
So why now? Why is Boehner's threat of a lawsuit suddenly the proverbial straw that seems to be breaking the camel's back?
For one thing, Democrats are not exactly known to be prone to presenting unified fronts on issues of the day.
But more importantly, every other attack has been at least seen as political back-and-forth, Senators making statements, and fights between the executive and legislative branches. Except for the birther movement at least publicly disavowed by the Washington GOP leadership, nothing has come close to challenging the very legitimacy of Barack Obama's presidency itself.
Until now, rank and file Democrats have only had a hint, a strong feeling, that the Republican Party wants to invalidate the Obama presidency - that they want to invalidate our votes. Now they have proof. That always has a unifying effect, as Democrats become more concerned about fighting the GOP scourge than fighting among themselves.
As much as this is about a united front, however, what makes this resistance particularly potent is the most sacred, personal of things: your own ballot. Challenging the legitimacy of the a presidency transcends being simply about that president. It challenges the votes of the people who cast their ballots for him. Ballots are personal. People view challenging the legitimacy of the ballot - or even a ballot - as a personal affront not simply against the president, but against themselves.
That personal affront drives them to defend the President, not for the President's sake, but for their own. This isn't simply about overreach. This level of political witch-hunt is about an attack that is on the President but transcends the president - it becomes an attack on the democratic process.
When the Republicans launched impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton in the late 1990s, the Democrats ended up gaining seats in the House and losing none in the Senate, something almost unheard of for the party of a president in his second term. Partly because of the Republicans' impeachment euphoria, Bill Clinton left office with a 63% approval rating.
It's partly because of the unifying effect of a full blown and public attack on the president of a party that is viewed as politically motivated (whether that is the reality or not), I believe, that Nancy Pelosi absolutely refused to consider impeachment of George W. Bush after Democrats swept the midterms in 2006. There was no use pursuing a path that would lead to nothing (the Senate never had the votes to remove Bush from office) except for energizing the demoralized GOP base just in time for the 2008 presidential election.
But John Boehner took the bait. Not that he had much choice. With the Tea Party fringe becoming progressively more radical and increasing the infighting inside the Republican Party, Boehner, too, needed a unifying issue. He - and the Tea Party - see delegimizing the Obama presidency as the unifying issue.
They're right - but only for the right wing fringe. Again and again, Boehner has had the chance to choose between the fringe and cooperating with the President to make progress, and he has always chosen the former. This time, he has chosen to challenge the President not for any particular policy, but simply for the temerity of acting like a president.
The people who voted for this president will not have our votes challenged. We will not watch the most transparent attempt to delegitimize our votes by the top leadership of the Repubican party in silence. Maybe too many of us are silent at the faux-scandal coverage, and maybe for too long we have let the other side do all the talking. But this lawsuit is the clearest evidence that the fringe has gone mainstream in the GOP, and that they are trying to clip the impact of our votes, not by winning an election but by a politically motivated lawsuit challenging the presidency itself.