WASHINGTON -- In the course of the coming week, Republicans in Washington will be refighting three of the key battles of the elections of 2008 and 2012.
On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R) welcomes -- against the wishes of the White House -- Benjamin Netanyahu to a joint session of Congress, where the Israeli prime minister will use the forum to challenge President Barack Obama's decision to engage with Iran in nuclear negotiations.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court, on the orders of at least four of the chamber's GOP judges, will hear what is widely being treated as the most absurd case in modern judicial history. In a semantic challenge to the text of the law, Republican activists are arguing that the Affordable Care Act did not intend to provide affordable care.
And on Friday, Republicans will renew their threat to shut down the Department of Homeland Security in order to stop the president's executive immigration action that provided protection from deportation to some 5 million people.
None of these issues, of course, are new to the national conversation. In fact, all three played prominent roles in both of the past two presidential elections, with the two parties taking starkly different positions. They arose again in 2010 and 2014 during midterm elections. The 2010 campaign was decided largely on the bad economy and anger at Obamacare, coupled with the traditionally low Democratic turnout in an off year. In 2014, the White House held its immigration order until after the election, in a futile attempt to hang on to some red state Senate seats.
As early as the Democratic presidential primary, then-Senator Obama said that if elected, he would be willing to meet with the Iranian regime without preconditions. He was pilloried by Republicans and his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton as "irresponsible and frankly naive," yet he stood by the position. Obama's stance signaled his strong preference for diplomacy over military confrontation. He brought this stance to the 2012 election as well, in contrast to Republican Mitt Romney's much more aggressive approach.
The issue of immigration reform was also central to both campaigns, with Romney's counter -- the suggestion that undocumented immigrants "self deport" -- helping drive the Latino vote toward Obama in a decisive fashion. The two parties were so far apart on the issue that when Rick Perry told a debate audience that it was heartless to refuse an education to a child because his parents brought him to the country illegally, it was considered a major gaffe that he later walked back.
The GOP base is so powerfully opposed to immigration reform that Boehner's speakership has been threatened in the DHS showdown.
And, of course, Obamacare has not gone unaddressed by the electorate. Obama pledged to reform health care during the 2008 campaign, and Romney made opposition to it a centerpiece of his case against the president.
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