Department of self-defeating arguments

Congressional Republicans are still quite outraged by President Obama’s recess appointments last week, and plan to take up a resolution criticizing the move — just as soon as they return from recess.

Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.) and 71 other House Republicans introduced a nonbinding resolution today voicing concern over President Barack Obama’s recess appointment of four administration nominees last week.

“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,” Black said. “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 added]

Jonathan Bernstein called this the “best self-refuting argument ever,” adding, “[W]e’re to believe that it’s outrageous for the president to call what’s happening now a recess, and the House intends to take it up as soon as they get back into town after recessing for the holiday.”

Exactly. The president decided lawmakers had left town for a congressional recess. Lawmakers effectively endorsed the line when they said the White House couldn’t submit a request for a debt-ceiling increase while they were on a congressional recess.

And now Diane Black and her cohorts want a resolution to complain that Obama thought they were on a recess, which they’ll vote on, just as soon as they get back from their recess.

I’d encourage Republicans to think this one through a little more, but I’m not sure they’d understand the problem even if they pondered the contradiction.

On a related note, Brian Beutler reports today that “the Obama administration is still operating with scores of vacancies, including an unexpected hole at the top of the Office of Management and Budget,” and unless the president is prepared to “dial his use of the recess appointment power up even further,” the vacancies will persist for the foreseeable future.