It’s hard to fully appreciate just how much the Republican Party has neglected its duty to the United States if you don’t know the story of Tom Rice.
He is the congressman from the Seventh Congressional District in South Carolina who was considered too moderate for tea party support during his first campaign but made his way to the powerful Ways and Means Committee in Congress early in his career in large part because he defied “King Obama.”
Rice was the man who pushed the Republican-led House to take the unprecedented step of suing a sitting president. His STOP resolution – Stop This Over-Reaching President Act – had 120 co-sponsors and charged President Obama with overstepping his bounds on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, immigration and welfare. It was too radical for then-Speaker John Boehner, but the GOP later consulted with Rice and filed suit over health reform.
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Obama has no right to choose which law he will enforce and was too reliant upon executive orders, he told Megyn Kelly on the Fox News Channel.
He bragged to the Charleston Post & Courier that he felt “vindicated” because a judge ruled in favor of the House on one point.
“Somebody who can both make the law and enforce the law is not a president, they are a king,” he told C-Span.
He compared Obama to the tyranny of King George III.
“At the end of the bloody revolution, the last thing that they wanted was another king, they wanted freedom,” he told his colleagues as they voted to sue Obama.
“We cannot stand by and watch the president shred our Constitution,” Rice thundered.
Surely a man that dedicated to the Republic would be up in arms at a president who fires the man leading an investigation into potential Russian collusion with members of that president’s campaign staff?
Surely a man who said the previous president was trying to be king because of a policy dispute would not stand idly by while the current president makes decision after decision that threatens the country’s safety and stability?
Surely the man who claimed he was forced to challenge Obama because he loved the U.S. Constitution so much would not defend a man who has been undermining that document on a daily basis?
When I asked Rice about this, he said “if we see the same power grabs from President Trump he should be held accountable.”
“It is within the president’s power to terminate the FBI Director for any reason or no reason at all. President Trump lost confidence in Director Comey and many Americans on both sides of the aisle feel the same way. While there are questions about the timing of his firing, I’m optimistic that House and Senate committees as well as the FBI will continue their investigations wherever they may lead. To date, I have seen no concrete evidence of wrongdoing.”
In other words, the Republic is at stake when a Democratic president takes steps to implement health reform well but isn’t no matter what a Republican president does, because if a Republican does something, it can’t be wrong.
In a few short years, Rice has gone from being too moderate for the tea party to a staunch defender of Trump’s radical abuses of power.
Earlier this year, he told me that if he could only accomplish one thing this year, it would be tax reform. But is there any cost too high to achieve a bucket list legislative item? Rice needs to answer that question; so does the rest of the Republican Party.