In what The Washington Post called "a bold act of political defiance," President Obama Wednesday announced the recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Cordray's nomination had been blocked by a Senate filibuster. There was no way he was going to win approval in 2012.
Enraged Republicans denounced the appointment as an affront and a usurpation of power, for the Senate had not formally gone into recess.
The White House airily dismissed the Republican rage, saying no Senate business is being conducted during the Christmas-New Year break, and to argue that the Senate is still in session is a sham.
Obama seemed to delight in his Trumanesque contempt:
"I will not sit by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people they were elected to serve. ... Not at this make-or-break moment for middle-class Americans."
Cordray's appointment will be contested in the courts. Yet it will likely stand, though it's in-your-face aspect added appreciably to the bad blood bubbling in this city.
The Obamaites seem not to care.
Indeed, from year-end reports out of Hawaii, this is the new Obama strategy. He has given up on working with Congress and intends to run a year-long campaign modeled on Harry Truman's 1948 demagogic assault on the "no-good, do-nothing 80th Congress" -- the one that passed Taft-Hartley and enacted the Marshall Plan.
Details of the Obama strategy were spoon-fed to the Post and New York Times. The Times lead: "President Obama is heading into his re-election campaign with plans to step up his offensive against an unpopular Congress, concluding that he cannot pass any major legislation in 2012 because of Republican hostility to his agenda."
The Post lead: "President Obama has a New Year's resolution that will shape his re-election strategy at the dawn of 2012: Keep beating up on an unpopular Congress."
Once he gets a year's extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut, said White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest, that is the last "must-do" item, "the president is no longer tied to Washington, D.C."
But if the president is about to barnstorm the nation savaging Congress for a full year, where does that leave the country?
If Obama will be proposing nothing to deal with the fiscal crisis -- trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see -- how does America avert the future that Italy faces? Italy's debt is 120 percent of gross domestic product; ours, at 100 percent of GDP, is not all that far behind.
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