Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Is Boehner leading from behind?

I know this won't be pleasant, but for just a couple of minutes lets pretend you're Speaker Boehner.

What you're facing is a lunatic caucus from your own party that likely makes up about a third of the House - in other words - not enough to actually pass anything. But just a few months ago they first gave you an ass kicking with that stupid "Plan B" on the so-called "fiscal cliff" and then toyed with an insurrection when it came time for your re-election as Speaker. Just recently 16 of them went against you on a procedural vote - something that is supposed to be a party-line vote. 

So you're pissed. You can't move anything in the House without caving to the Democrats. And if you do, these lunatics will have your scalp.

What's a Speaker to do? Here's what Boehner did...

First of all,  he said that he wouldn't participate in any more one-on-one negotiations with the President.

Boehner knows that one of the problems he's had in the past is that any deal he struck with the President would be immediately rejected by the lunatic caucus in the House. Over and over again he's been made to look like a fool. So he's taken himself out of any potential for a repeat embarrassment.

What he's suggested as an alternative this time is that the Senate needs to "get off their asses" and act to deal with the sequester.

Next thing you know, the President is taking a bunch of Senate Republicans out to dinner.
...if Obama reaches an agreement on a long-term deficit agreement with Senate Republicans, it would be the kind of bill that would get support from members of both parties, much of the national press and the public. Boehner would be under heavy pressure to allow a vote on such legislation, even if he and many of his members would not vote for it. And it would likely pass the House.
Now, before you think I'm crazy, this is exactly the kind of talk that is already sending some of the lunatics into a full-fledged melt-down. Sunday when House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy wouldn't categorically affirm that Boehner would stick forever and for always to the Hastert Rule, the response was:
This is a declaration of war within the Republican ranks.
I know the Orange Man isn't the brightest bulb. But surely after these last couple of years he knows that he'll never be able to please the lunatics and that any attempt to do so is destined to fail. What are his choices at this point? He very strategically took both himself and the House off the table in terms of leadership on dealing with the sequester. It could be that's his best shot right now.

Anyway, perhaps I'm wrong. But its food for thought. And wouldn't it be just sweeeeet if he was finally taking some lessons from our Community Organizer-in-Chief?


  1. Boehner is one of the hardest in our politics to read well. It is clear that his Speakership hasn't worked, and more or less the reasons why it hasn't--above all, the fissure in the caucus--explain it. What's harder to read is the man himself. He strikes me as someone who is not suited to the job, as opposed to a Pelosi who clearly is good at it. I imagine that while he might not be what we call a "moderate" Republican as a politician that likely his personal preferences are indeed so. I imagine he was somewhat cynical about politics when he started, and that as time passed he became disgusted.

    I have to imagine that he feels at some level like his real enemy sits to his right in his own caucus. He must feel a hatred for Cantor. I am sure he fantasizes often about letting rip at these people, like:


    At least, I would if I were him.

    I think he's really hindered by alcohol. It doesn't enter into the analysis usually, but he is not firing on all cylinders.

    Could he be taking a page from the President? It's not impossible. I am certain that the two have a frank understanding about how what they say publicly doesn't reflect their actual working relationship. I think Boehner wants to get things done, and is probably exasperated enough to accept help.

    1. I agree with everything you've just said. He's incredibly hard to read.

      PBO has publicly acknowledged the position both Boehner and McConnell are in. It made me think they might have had some pretty frank discussions about all this.

    2. I'll break Godwin's Law for a moment, but for a really concrete reason.

      I remember being taught in school that the traditional German right, in the 1920's, made the fatal error of imagining that, in offering Hitler the Chancellorship, that he would be their pawn when what happened was the opposite. The lesson was, it's not a good idea for anyone trying to run a system to try to co-opt anyone who wants to destroy that system. The GOP made that mistake in trying to co-opt the hard right. They invited people who want a genuine theocracy (who would destroy the system) into their tent. They invited people who would dismantle the entire social safety net (i.e., destroy the system), who would dismantle the structure of civil rights law that has been on the books since 1965, nearly 50 years (destroy the system), etc.

      It doesn't work. They inflate their number of voters through the coalition, but the coalition can't function. The Nazi seizure of power to be certain was a more extreme example, but the principle is not different.

    3. Writing quickly for a comment.

      Yes, I know that the offer of the Chancellorship was in '33. The process of cultivating the Nazis as a counterweight to the Communists began in the '20's. My mind moved mid-sentence...

  2. I think your analysis has lots of merit, Smartypants. Thanks.

    Just for the sake of "I need some fun right now", I'm going to start saying Boehner is too chicken to face Obama, that's why he won't negotiate with him.

    Honestly, I'm tired of taking these people seriously and think it is high time we started ridiculing them hard and fast. They so totally 'have it coming'.