pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys

A Note About Tennessee Family Values

Elizabeth Lauten, former communications director for Rep. Steven Fincher (R-TN08)

How … interesting. And you can take that proverbially or not as per your inclination. But consider this: Elizabeth Lauten has resigned.

Some might wonder who the hell Elizabeth Lauten actually is, and they would likely not be wrong to do so. Well, unless they happened to be a regular follower of the ins and outs of Rep. Steven Fincher (R-TN08), whose communications director reminded us all of the relationship between Republicans and family values.

A GOP staffer will resign after launching a verbal assault on Malia and Sasha Obama in the wake of their appearance at the president’s annual turkey pardoning ceremony last week at the White House.

Elizabeth Lauten, who served as a communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), criticized the two girls in a Facebook rant which eventually went viral. “Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised, public events,” wrote Lauten.

She also said that the Obama daughters, who largely stay out of the limelight, should show “a little class.”

Many have argued Malia and Sasha were behaving like typical teenagers at the event. They appeared unamused by their father’s corny jokes and at one point Malia declined to pet the Thanksgiving turkey by simply saying, “Nah.”

You might recall we mentioned this episode recently, in an attempt to fill space in an otherwise useless post about a really stupid American holiday tradition celebrating a mythical act of human decency. And while it is one thing to point out that it is Gawker, and wonder what else we should expect, one might think a communications director for a sitting congressman should know better.

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Cheesy

I am here to announce what I’m sure will be the most talked-about executive action this month. Today, I’m taking an action fully within my legal authority—the same kind of action taken by Democrats and Republican presidents before me—to spare the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese, from a terrible and delicious fate ....

.... I know some will call this amnesty—but don’t worry, there’s plenty of turkey to go around.

President Barack Obama

Cole Cooper, National Turkey Federation Chairman Gary Cooper, Sasha Obama, Malia Obama, and President Barack Obama gather to pardon Cheese the Turkey in a White House Thanksgiving tradition on 26 November 2014.  Official White House photo by Pete Souza.They call him … Cheese.

Wait, no, really?

Yes, really.

And, yes, the other one really is named Mac. Given that they are being pardoned for the crime of being turkeys, perhaps they should have been named Ted and Mitch.

Meanwhile, Max Read of Gawker notes the sideshow that is White House parenthood:

Not even the pomp and ritual of the White House can overcome the most powerful force known to man: TEEN CONTEMPT.

Today President Obama undertook the White House’s stupid traditional Thanksgiving ceremony of “pardoning” a turkey. His daughters Malia and Sasha, 16 and 13, accompanied him. Their barely contained disdain for the production was utterly appropriate and utterly magnificent ....

Er … um … ah … right. Hey, it’s Gawker. What, really, do we expect?

____________________

Obama, Barack. “Remarks by the President at Pardoning of the National Turkey”. The White House. 26 November 2014.

Read, Max. “Malia and Sasha Obama Are Over the Stupid White House Turkey Pardon”. Gawker. 26 November 2014.

The Main Attraction?

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

“Just because some Republicans want to pretend that before January 2009 presidential power had been limited to pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys doesn’t mean they are right.”

Jonathan Bernstein

And the hits keep coming. ‘Tis a bold headline for Bloomberg View: “Boehner Betrays Congress”, and Jonathan Bernstein leaves little room for doubt about his perceptions:

I’ll say it again: Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans aren’t asking for authority to be returned from the White House to Congress. They want an imperial judiciary that could trump either of the elected branches.

Jonathan Bernstein (via BloombergView)In a system of separated institutions sharing powers, which is what the Constitution created, all three branches do things that look a lot like legislating, but laws can trump administrative or judicial rule-making. That gives Congress serious clout within the system. This lawsuit, however, is an abdication of that clout. In effect, it says that the courts, not Congress, should have the last word when there’s a dispute between branches.

Filing this lawsuit amounts to institutional treason. Boehner and House Republicans should be ashamed. The rest of us can only hope that the courts rescue them by keeping to precedent and tossing this lawsuit into the garbage.

To the other, the suit is filed. In a way, that is actually surprising. It is not quite that it seems like yesterday that House Republicans found themselves in need of a new lawyer after the one they hired quit the case, owing to the sort of political pressure one’s law firm might apply when one is about to publicly humiliate the firm with an act of juristic malpractice; it wasn’t yesterday, but two months ago. After hyperpartisan lawyer David Rivkin quit the case for having bitten off too much hyperpartisanship for his firm, Baker Hostetler, to chew, the GOP turned to William A. Burck of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, who had just finished the laborious task of failing to defend former Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell.

Late last month, then, we learned that Mr. Burck was also stepping down. Josh Gerstein and Maggie Haberman of Politico summarized the situation thus:

Rivkin’s firm withdrew in September after health-care-related clients pressured the firm to back out of representing the House in the Obamacare-related suit. Two sources told POLITICO in recent days that a similar scenario played out with Burck’s firm, with clients bringing pressure to get the firm off the case.

How about three days ago? Is that close enough to feel like yesterday? For whatever reason, Jonathan Turley of George Washington University decided to take up the case. Lauren French of Politico reported ot Tuesday:

“Professor Turley is a renowned legal scholar who agrees that President Obama has clearly overstepped his constitutional authority,” said Michael Steel, a spokesperson for Speaker John Boehner. “He is a natural choice to handle this lawsuit” ....

.... “Even for $500-per-hour in taxpayer dollars, Speaker Boehner has had to scour Washington to find a lawyer willing to file this meritless lawsuit against the president,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Minority Leader Pelosi. “Now, he’s hired a TV personality for this latest episode of his distraction and dysfunction.”

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