- - Monday, February 24, 2014

The Obama administration cries out for adult supervision. Instead of enforcing the laws, President Obama skips the tedious and inconvenient legislative responsibility and makes national policy with executive orders, public statements and press releases. The Republicans, especially in the House, must apply the discipline assigned by the Constitution.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the Republican chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has his hands full looking into the massacre in Benghazi, the abuses within the Internal Revenue Service, the malfunctioning Healthcare.gov website and other outrages that survive and prosper just under the radar. Other committees, including Commerce, Intelligence and Ways and Means, each have issues within their jurisdictions. All of them must step up their game.

If Democrats held the House of Representatives and a Republican secretary of state had gone to a foreign capital to proclaim a pet hoax, the uproar from Democrats would have been deafening. A week wouldn’t have passed before that secretary of state would have been called to account by a congressional committee. Secretary of State John F. Kerry goes to Jakarta to tell the Indonesians they’re on the front line of the fight against global warming, and Congress shrugs. He calls global warming the greatest weapon of mass destruction. Did the suave but forgetful Monsieur Kerry skip the briefing, offered to secretaries of state, about nuclear weapons and how terrible they can be? Is a heat wave or a cold snap now “a weapon of mass destruction”? But from Republicans, there’s not even a sharp letter to Foggy Bottom.

Ed Royce, the California Republican who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, should invite Mr. Kerry to share this remarkable insight with the committee the next time he is in town. Nobody expects diplomats to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but the message Mr. Kerry sends to the rest of the world abuses reality, intelligence and his responsibilities. The United States is engaged in multi-party talks to constrain Iran’s ability to manufacture nuclear weapons. Most of the chemical weapons that were supposed to be out of Syria by now are still there. Venezuela, which is not an ally of the United States, is on the verge of unraveling. Ukraine remains in turmoil, on the verge of a violent civil war.

Serious problems demand the serious attention of a serious senior diplomat, and the undivided attention of the most prominent member of the president’s national security team. Congress should ask Mr. Kerry whether he meant what he said in Jakarta, whether he really and truly thinks it’s more important for the inspectors in Iran to determine whether the mullahs are properly offsetting their carbon-dioxide footprint than to find out how far along they are in building the bomb that could ignite a war in the Middle East.

The president’s cast of characters, from the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, are pushing the boundaries of their authority like never before, and saying outrageous things. This should outrage Democrats no less than Republicans, because what goes around comes around, and the president won’t always be a Democrat. Until then, it’s up to the Republicans in Congress to man up and do their jobs of calling the individual members of the Obama administration to full account. The House must take the lead, since senators are busy applauding themselves.