Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shame




The unraveling of the Republican Party feels like a soap opera with John Boehner getting written out of the script.  He has struggled to maintain control of the GOP House members since they regained the majority in 2010, thanks to a wave of new Tea Party representatives determined to overturn "Obamacare."  Boehner did his best to oblige, bringing up a resolution 60 times to appease his fire-eating brethren, knowing full well it would take more than a House vote to do away with the reviled Affordable Care Act.  Unfortunately, folks like Louis Gohmert, Blake Farenthold, Tim Huelskamp and other members of the House Tea Party Caucus do not.  They felt it was enough to will away "Obamacare" and it would be gone.

This unbridled zeal took its toll on Boehner, although he put on his best face on Face the Nation in an effort to show what a loyal conservative he has been, only to be taken out at the knees by "false prophets."  He said he planned to step down at the end of last year when his comrade-in-arms Eric Cantor was ousted in a Virginia GOP primary, but hung on believing there was still work to do.  Of course, he lays most of the blame at Obama's feet, his arch-nemesis, while taking all the credit for the budget cuts these past five years, as if he single-handed brought down the annual deficit one trillion dollars from its peak of $1.4 trillion in 2009.  But, he isn't fooling anyone.  He is reviled by Democrats and Republicans alike as one of the most ineffectual House leaders in decades.

In 2013, he had the golden opportunity to work with House Democrats in getting a comprehensive immigration bill passed, which had cleared the Senate.  Instead, he sat on it, saying he wouldn't bring it up for a vote unless he had the majority of House Republicans on his side.  He claimed he was obeying a rule set by his predecessor, Dennis Hastert, who is now copping a plea deal for trying to hush up misconduct while Speaker of the House.  By the time the 2014 midterms rolled around, no one wanted to touch the immigration bill with a ten-foot poll.  Even those Senate Republicans who had signed onto it, like Marco Rubio, were now withdrawing their support.  This bill could have made a huge difference, but Boehner in his arrogance saw a bill passed in the House with the support of Democrats as a victory for Obama and he couldn't have that.  He had a midterm election to win.

At every turn, Boehner did his level best to obstruct the Obama administration, determined to make the President irrelevant, as Newt Gingrich had tried to make Bill Clinton when Newt was Speaker of the House from 1994-98.  Gingrich similarly stepped down after a failed effort, underscored by his ridiculous attempt to impeach Clinton, which led to the Democrats making big gains in the House in 1998.

The Republicans seem to have averted a government shutdown by working with the White House and the Democrats on a last minute budget deal that will include funding for Planned Parenthood. This is no thanks to John Boehner, who finds himself pretty much a bystander in these negotiations.  The Senate Republicans have done so by shunning the Congressional TP caucus, notably Ted Cruz, who was so adamant in cutting PP funding over abortions, which he has made central to his presidential campaign.  Time and again, senior GOP leadership has had to bail Boehner out of a self-inflicted jam.

You would never know it to hear John Boehner, who continues to blow his own horn.  In his mind, he did everything he could to hold the House together in the face of a Republican civil war.  He never was his own man, either falling back on past failed precedents or letting himself be steered by the TP caucus, rather than trusting his own instincts, assuming he had any.  He should have learned from past mistakes, like Gingrich's attempted putsch, instead of invoking a "Pledge to America" he knew he couldn't keep.  In the end, Boehner made just as many false promises as did the "false prophets" he believes undermined his authority.

John Boehner has only himself to blame for the "dirty barn" he made of the House, and now tries to "clean up" with one last budget bill to avoid a government shutdown.  I don't think he will invoke the "Hastert rule" on this one.

2 comments:

  1. John Boehner must be the loneliest man in Congress. I don’t know who’s happiest to see him leave, the Democrats who loathe his obstructionism or the Tea Party brown shirts who despise him for not being one of them.

    Craig

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  2. Now comes the replacement -- Chaffetz or McCarthy? Not sure who would be worse?

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