Obama Holds a Whip Hand Over Republicans on Recess Appointments

These Republicans are too clever by half and too clumsy by twice that.

Remember last month, when GOP radicals in the House of Representatives threatened to raise payroll taxes and cut unemployment compensation unless President Obama put an oil pipeline and other goodies in their silk Christmas stocking?

Their big brothers and sisters in the Senate brought them to their senses by reminding them that a deal had already been cut. To double-cross 99 percent of the citizens (and the Senate) during a holiday break would have exposed Republicans as the tools of the plutocrats they usually are.

You might think these lunkheads would learn from their mistakes, but it does not seem so as we enter a new month and an election year.

This time, the issue is President Obama's recess appointment on Wednesday of Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

While the Republicans were flummoxed by that left hook to the head, Obama added a combination of right jabs to the body by filling the National Labor Relations Board with three of the same sort of recess appointments.

This tactic left Republicans on the ropes, gasping for breath, waiting for the bell to end the round.

All this a day after their clown car carnival caucuses in Iowa. The GOP dunces do not know what hit them. So here's a clue, guys.

If the economy continues its gradual improvement, Obama and the Democrats could sweep the White House and both chambers of Capitol Hill in November. Maybe then, some of the right-wing cretins (Cantor, DeMint, Ryan -- you know who they are) will get the payback they deserve.

Let's start with Cordray, who might make trouble for the 1 percent of wealth-holders who control a disproportionate share of power and often screw consumers. Republicans are not happy; they do their best to serve that 1 percent. Grrrrrr!

Obama's action was "an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab by President Obama," moaned Speaker of the House John A. Boehner.

And the president "arrogantly circumvented the American people," whined Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader.

The Republicans are threatening to take the issue to court, arguing that the president did not have the power to make a recess appointment through a "pro forma" parliamentary trick while the Senate was technically in session.

Obama's response was basically, "Go ahead, make my day."

And he did much to make his day himself. On a visit to suburban Cleveland, he presented Cordray -- a former Ohio attorney general -- as a government official who will try to fight off some of the financial contamination that poisoned the economy during the Bush era.

"I'm not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people that we were elected to serve," the president said in Shaker Heights, Ohio. "Not with so much at stake. Not at this make-or-break moment for middle-class Americans."

Should the Republicans take Obama to court? They are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

By challenging Cordray's appointment, the Republicans will say, in effect, they don't want consumer watchdogs to oversee mortgage companies, payday lenders and debt collectors, among others.

Instead, Republicans will take the side of the people who write the fine print that forces people out of their homes and hounds them for payment of high-interest loans. Let 'em!

But if the Republicans decline to challenge the president in court, they will be vacating the "constitutional principles" they discover every time James Madison appears to them in a séance over at the Heritage Foundation.

They will have to back down and allow an agency already approved by the Senate. It was fashioned by Elizabeth Warren, an advocate they refused to confirm as director. So she's running for the Senate as a Democrat in Massachusetts, and the Republican Senate minority may have to contend again with her as an equal.

Another female Democratic senator, Barbara Boxer of California, brushed off Republican objections to Obama's end-around of a Senate Republican filibuster. "Hardworking Americans deserve to be protected from predatory practices in finance, banking and housing," Boxer said in a statement. "I find the Republican criticism of this recess appointment rather hollow given their support for President Bush's 171 recess appointments."

One of those Bush appointments went to John Bolton, as ambassador to the United Nations. Flippant, bellicose and a rigid ideologue of the right wing, Bolton has moved on to a propaganda-pushing position at Fox News Channel.

Later in the day, Obama appointed Sharon Block, Richard Griffin and Terence Flynn to the National Labor Relations Board. Because the NLRB lacked a quorum, Republicans were content to let it wither instead of protecting working people, as it was designed.

If the Republicans wish to fight this battle, too, well, let them. There tend to be more employees than there are employers (also known as "job creators"). Let the Republicans take the side of the wealthy and powerful; there are more votes on the other side.

For the first three years of the Obama presidency, we saw a chief executive trying too hard to compromise with zealots. It was like arguing with barking dogs, especially after the tea party tantrum of 2010.

With so many union-busting Republican governors elected in Great Lakes states like Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, the workers are fighting back, specifically with the recall of Wisconsin's Scott Walker.

Obama's new energy is like a brisk breeze of winter. For years, it seemed as if Obama played Charlie Brown to Lucy's football, always trusting her to hold it for him to kick until she jerked it away.

The Republicans have consistently done all they can to sabotage the economy and seize more power, in the Senate and the White House.

But a rising economy -- if it continues -- will give the president and his party the high ground in these confirmation battles and other issues.

With the eventual Republican presidential candidate likely to be either too flaky for most Americans (Santorum) or too moderate and weaselly (Romney) for most Republicans, the GOP could get flattened in November.

If so, they will be due for a kicking when they are down. Let's dream that this mild-mannered, gentlemanly president would then trade his basketball sneakers for some steel-toed boots and give them what they've got coming.

This post originally appeared on Current.com.