Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cry Me A River

Sometimes I don't know whether to feel sorry for John Boehner or despise him. Since assuming the mantle of Speaker of the House two years ago, he has been a leader in name only.  Granted no other Speaker in modern history has had to contend with such a pack of malcontents, but that's hardly an excuse. The simple and undeniable truth is that Boehner has been overmatched.  He's been, to put it mildly, his own worst enemy.

In just the last three weeks, he rejected a reasonable offer from the President that included revenue, spending cuts and entitlement reform, offered up a Plan B that was thoroughly rejected by his own caucus and then punted the entire fiscal cliff process over to the Senate, which then had the temerity to pass a bill that forced him to rely on a majority of Democrats to pass. As if that wasn't enough, he managed to piss off every Republican in New York and New Jersey - including one Chris Christie - by refusing to put the Sandy relief bill to a vote before the last session of Congress ended.

To quote Shakespeare, "O death, where is thy sting?"

And now, fresh off his exhilarating reelection as Speaker - okay I'm being sarcastic - he has vowed to fight the good fight in the upcoming debt ceiling battle. Of course, how he plans on doing this is anybody's guess, since he has stated publicly he is done negotiating with Obama one on one. While Mitch McConnell, his counterpart in the Senate, steadily builds an already impressive resume within his party, Boehner continues to do his best impersonation of the incredible shrinking man.

Were the stakes not so high, this Mad House would actually be fun to watch. Unfortunately the nation can ill afford a leaderless House with a reluctant general desperately trying to appease an extremist element in his caucus hellbent on avenging a staggering electoral loss at the ballot box.

Say what you will about Nancy Pelosi, she would never have permitted her caucus to resemble the cast of Animal House.  And she would never have stood for the impudence of a Majority Leader showing her up on a floor vote and undermining her authority in every negotiation.

Real leaders lead; they don't defer to others or punt away their authority. It's high time John Boehner decided whether he wants to be the leader of this bunch of merry madmen. So far, he's been a brutal disaster at it.


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