Wednesday, November 25 , 2015, 8:40 am | Partly Cloudy 54º

Jim Hightower: What’s Wrong With the GOP’s ‘Hell no’ Faction

By Jim Hightower | @JimHightower |

Ah, August — that time of year when the going gets tough ... and Congress gets going.

On vacation that is. And, to be fair, maybe Congress needs a vacation. All the stress of not passing laws and constantly thwarting any attempt by President Obama to fix America's problems seems to be straining their sanity.

For starters, if you thought that, surely, partisan posturing by far-right congress critters couldn't get any nuttier, you'd be wrong. Last month, the GOP claimed that all the talk about impeaching President Barack Obama is being led by — guess who? — Barack Obama!

If you'll recall, the top Republican leader, John Boehner (having discovered that the larger public is appalled that his party would even consider wasting time on such extremist nonsense) tried to do a political backflip.

Impeachment talk, he fumed, is "a scam started by Democrats at the White House." No Republican lawmakers, he barked to the media, are even discussing it. 

Boehner, Boehner, Boehner! Apparently he didn't hear Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who's No. 2 on his own GOP leadership team, tell Fox News that he refuses to rule out impeachment. Or Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, exult that "it would be a dream come true" to impeach Obama, and that he has pursued advice from experts on how to proceed.

Or Iowa's Rep. Steve King, saying flatly, "We need to bring impeachment hearings immediately."

How about Randy Weber of Texas, who put it unequivocally: "The president deserves to be impeached, plain and simple." And Georgia's Jack Kingston confirmed that: "Not a day goes by when people don't talk to us about impeachment."

Still, Boehner did receive some backing on his claim that no one in the GOP has given a moment's thought to impeachment. The always-insightful tea party radio ranter Glenn Beck, for example, waded in with this question to his audience on a recent broadcast: "Have you spoken to one person (pushing such an idea)?" he demanded. "No one" has used the "I" word, he snapped.

But, in fact, Beck does know one person who has: Himself! Also, Sarah Palin! And at least a dozen other likeminded sparklies on the way-out far-right horizon.

Right up to the time they departed Capitol Hill to enjoy vacations that will stretch through all of this month, much of September, and a good part of October, GOP howlers in Congress were pointing to several emergency issues that needed to be addressed — such as the humanitarian crisis of immigrant children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and the growing crisis of our nation's crumbling infrastructure.

But ... nothing. They simply adjourned and bolted off the job. 

OK. They did do one thing. Incapable of legislating, they litigated. Boehner filed a frivolous lawsuit against President Obama, charging that he's been governing unilaterally by issuing executive orders. But there are big problems with their suit. 

One: Obama has issued far fewer executive orders than did his GOP predecessor, George W.

Two: Their suit claims the president defied Congress by inadequately implementing the Obamacare health reform -- but, hello? Republicans fought that reform tooth and nail and are still trying to stop it from being implemented, meaning they're suing him for not doing something they don't want done (another indicator that Congress does need to take an extended leave for mental health reasons).

And three: As they vacated the Capitol, howling House leaders said that, in their absence, Obama should immediately deport the terrorized and traumatized migrant children who fled to the U.S. this summer from the gang violence and implacable poverty they faced in their Central America homes.

Again ... Hello? The GOP's call for deportations was a demand that — get this — the president should act unilaterally, by issuing an executive order.

These ideological zealots are nutty, but they're clogging the roadway, preventing any of the progress that America desperately needs. As a result, not only is the public fed up with them but voter turnout is plummeting this year as people see that the "hell no" faction has turned democratic participation into a farce — so why bother?

Put away all hope for honesty or seriousness, ye who enter the nut house presently known as Boehner's U.S. House of Representatives. Their antics could be laughed off — except that they're draining the vitality from America's democracy.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author of Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow. Click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @JimHightower, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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