Sometimes when you least expect it….you know how the rest of that line goes.
Even then, surprises arise, often as a delayed shock.
That’s the way we felt when we listened to House Speaker John Boehner scold Republican operatives for criticizing the new budget bill imagined by the Select Committee which is headed by Senator Patty Murray of Washington and Representative Paul Ryan.
For our own purposes, what’s actually in the bill doesn’t matter. What’s left out may.
But the idea that Mr. Boehner has little patience left for the very men and women who have been supporting him and his divided house for so many years is a stunner.
Better yet was his direct shot at organizations fed and fostered by The Heritage Foundation, the Koch brothers, the Chambers of Commerce around the country. It wasn’t Boehner’s cry of “Ridiculous!” as he seemed finally to grasp that these institutions (loosely termed) were savaging a plan they had not yet even read that made such an impact. It was, instead, his estimation that these groups were using House members, and the entire US population, for their own purposes.
Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Finally getting up enough courage to take on his handlers and their lackeys was not something timid for Mr. Boehner. It was, rather, what millions of Republicans and nearly one hundred per cent of the nation’s Democrats had wanted more than anything for Christmas: an admission that the super powers within the Republican party were buying legislators, orchestrating legislators’ votes, pushing the Congress in directions which were not simply unwise but actually unhealthy.
We cannot remember the numbers and names of Republicans who have long ached to hear someone in their own party say what they felt: that this Republican party was not their Republican party, that the Tea Party was out of control and insensate to common sense as well as history, that what are called liberal Republicans in today’s partisan climate have nowhere to go to cast a ballot.
“Credability” seemed to be the operative word of the last few days. Boehner was decrying the disappearance of this virtue as he addressed the press. If the Big Boys now lacked all credability, that would leave him, Boehner, as the only credible source for news of House doings and undoings, and that, folks, was a present even Boehner himself probably didn’t imagine coming down his chimney.
When we cast our minds back only a few weeks – nine, perhaps, maybe ten – to the commercials Ted Cruz and the Republican National Committee ran about defunding Obamacare, how this was the last and best chance to derail this gigantic insurance overhaul, we must also remember that even as Cruz implored voters to contact their House members to urge them not to vote for the bill, nearly every other pundit and commentator, as well as many House members themselves, said and said out loud that this was a Quixotic quest, that Mr. Obama would never let his baby die. In effect, they said, this was a ploy by Mr. Cruz on his locomotive’s run at the Republican nomination in 2016. Mr. Cruz was allowed to harangue Americans on a quest that was inevitable in its defeat. He knew it, too. But he didn’t care. Nothing stands in the way of this man’s ambition. This eleven month senator who had, as yet, done nothing to assist his country in its recovery from the Great Recession, offered no bills, offered no ideas for future health savings, offered nothing, in fact, except himself. This is clearly not enough for most of us.
Now that Mr. Boehner is in the ascendency even if only temporarily, where is the junior Senator from Texas? Astonishingly enough, he is silent while HE decides which man, Senator John Cornyn or his Tea Party challenger should benefit from his support. One assumes that the Texas delegation to Congress still thinks Mr. Cruz can walk on water by willing it so, and has given him the final word on the fate of the election in November between a well-known and well-rated conservative Congressman and an out-of-his skull challenger from the House.
Mr.Boehner’s use of the word “credibility” may cut many ways – against the Koch brothers, against the Heritage Foundation, against Republican PACS who jumped up and started screaming about the new budget bill before even reading it. And it cuts against the grain of Mr. Cruz, as well, who led his Tea Party troops into debacle.
All we can hope is that this singular occasion when Mr. Boehner declared that enough was enough will not be singular much longer. Finally, he has the ear of the nation, and of his membership. The nation needs a clear-sighted Boehner to begin to defend itself against partisan warfare that had not only threatened to shut down the government but actually has. Furthermore, Mr. Boehner needs more of the gumption and anger he showed us this week if he is to have any chance to reclaim his place in history as being a competent House Speaker versus being one of the worst in history.
So, Christmas came early this year for Democrats, who are only too content to sit back and watch the street fight between rival gangs of would be Republicans, each of whom believes to the bottom of its heart that it alone understands the soul of the Republican Party.
And as for that soul? Cutting food stamps and not extending long-term unemployment benefits at this time of year makes fairly evident to one and all that the party itself doesn’t HAVE a soul.