One of the most dreaded chores when returning from a long out-of-town trip can be opening up the mailbox to find piles of bills and past-due notices, and President Obama is no exception.
The president might be fondly recalling five days in Latin America spent at lavish dinners, kicking the soccer ball with school children and tightly controlled press appearances. He came back to Washington this week to find a mailbox full of stinging letters from congressional Republicans and Democrats who, suddenly unencumbered by the rules about criticizing a president on foreign soil, began berating him on a variety of issues.
The largest letter pile contained correspondence about the Libyan military campaign that commenced soon after the president's trip began. In one dated March, 23, the day the president arrived back in Washington, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, complained about the Libya campaign's objective.
"I and many other members of the House of Representatives are troubled that U.S. military resources were committed to war without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America's role is in achieving that mission," Boehner wrote. "In fact, the limited, sometimes contradictory, case made to the American people by members of your Administration has left some fundamental questions about our engagement unanswered."
But it isn't only Republicans who penned letters panning the decision to intervene in Libya without congressional consent.
"I am deeply concerned about the White House's neglect of its responsibility to seek Congress' authorization to use military force prior to the commitment of U.S. armed forces," Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, wrote. "I am equally concerned about the potential for further instability in the region as a result of U.S-led international intervention in Libya."
And in the same way an inattentive bill payer would come home to find a letter from the power company threatening to disconnect service, in his letter, Kucinich wrote that he planned to cut off funding for the Libya mission.
"The only way I can see to correct them [Libya mis-steps] is to stop U.S. participation in the war entirely," he wrote. "As such, I intend to offer an amendment to the next general funding measure to be considered by Congress to defund U.S. military intervention in Libya."
But there weren't only Libya-related letters in the president's mailbox when he got home.
Forty-three Republicans let the president know they aren't happy with the administration's decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Though it is law, the administration has stopped defending it citing its own assertion that the law is unconstitutional.
"To enforce your opinion on such a controversial topic also begs the question as to what other laws your administration may choose to disregard," the letter states. "Your actions send a message to the American people that your administration cares little for the decisions made, the votes cast, and laws enacted by their elected representatives."