It is fair to assume that the tweets posted every 3 to 4 minutes at the Twitter account of Barack Obama are the work of someone other than the president, who — it is hoped — sees himself as having more pressing matters to attend to. And yet there is a certain foot-in-mouthedness about these tidbits of moralizing, most aimed at Republicans in Congress, that make them seem genuinely Obaman.
Take this gem, posted roughly an hour before press time:
“The American people have to demand that the folks in Washington do their job.” —President Obama #RebuildAmerica
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 15, 2014
Here of course there is no argument. The American people do have a right to expect, to demand, that the elected officials in D.C. to do the job they were hired to do. The only argument is who among those officials is most deserving of this needling call to action.
Naturally, Obama would have readers accept that the GOP-led House is failing to act. He is wrong. A fact checker column at the website RGJ.com undertook to prove or disprove the claim widely circulated by the White House in late 2013 that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed zero pieces of legislation in the past three years.
The results? During the past three years, the U.S. House of Representatives has not passed “no bills.” In fact, the current session of the House alone has passed 269. If we add in the two previous sessions of Congress — still just covering bills introduced in the past three years — the House has passed a total of 1,203 bills.
The House has passed additional bills this year, many of which have been stashed in a Senate file cabinet by Majority Leader Harry Reid.
But what about Obama. Has he done his job? Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say jobs, plural, since the president technically has seven jobs in all. One of those is Chief of State, in which capacity a president is supposed to be an inspiring example for the American people. As the American Chief of State, the president is a living symbol of the nation.
How has Obama fared on this front? Considering his below-water approval ratings, and especially the view that under his guidance the nation is less respected around the world, it seems accurate to say he has failed. He has failed at other presidential tasks as well, including as Chief Guardian of the Economy and Chief Diplomat.
One job Obama has taken it upon himself to do, namely legislating, is not among his job descriptions as delineated in the Constitution. The president has some latitude in interpreting laws duly passed Congress, but he has no power to change laws that he has signed or to make new laws of his own.
Some of his defenders have argued that Obama has signed fewer executive orders than previous presidents, but it is the quality more than the quantity that sets his power grabs apart.
His tweet today is on point. Here’s hoping he heeds it.