Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Savior Boehner? Who's Kidding Whom?

Ross Douthat has a piece in The New York Times about John Boehner that is, shall we say, a considerably more generous read on his tenure as Speaker than his worst critics' takes. And that's putting it mildly. To hear Douthat tell it, Boehner is to be commended for not allowing his party to blow up the entire country during the 112th Congress. "For a glimpse of the alternative, just imagine rerunning the last two years with Newt Gingrich in the speaker’s chair."

So if I understand Douthat correctly, I'm supposed to be grateful that the man who forced two government shutdowns in the mid-1990s isn't the current Speaker of the House.  Okay, so I'm grateful. There, I said it.

But if Douthat is seriously suggesting that just because Boehner isn't as crazy as a good chunk of his caucus then that means he "has done his country a more important service over the last two years than almost any other politician in Washington," all I can say is if the Times thing doesn't work out, Douthat has a future as a stand-up comic.

Really, that's it? Count your lucky stars that the House Republicans didn't elect Louie Gohmert or Michele Bachmann or Steve King Speaker? Can I get an amen?

The problem with John Boehner isn't that he's the homeroom teacher for a class of mostly misfits - he is. The problem is that he doesn't command respect from the remaining sane students in it.  All you need do is look over at the other chamber to see how things are run. Yes, Mitch McConnell has far less wayward children to contend with than Boehner.  But McConnell has one thing going for him that his counterpart doesn't: the respect of his fellow senators.  Even those who disagree with him - we call them Democrats around here - treat him with the proper accord due a minority leader.

Sorry, Ross. John Boehner isn't worthy of any praise or adulation from anyone. There is nothing noble or admirable about a leader who can't lead. He gets no E for effort. As I said earlier, he is "overmatched" in the position. The fact that there doesn't appear to be anyone else who either wants the job or would be competent in it doesn't change the fact that he has been a "brutal disaster" at it.

I find no comfort in striving for mediocrity even when the alternative might be worse. And that kernel of truth, I'm sorry to say, speaks volumes for the state the GOP is in these days.


Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/opinion/sunday/douthat-boehner-american-hero.html?_r=3&


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