Saturday, October 05, 2013

Give Him Hell, Harry

Friday, House Speaker John Boehner whined

This isn't some damn game. The American people don't want their government shut down and neither do I. All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness — reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare. It's as simple as that. But it all has to begin with a simple discussion.

Boehner seized his opportunity when The Wall Street Journal quoted "a senior administration official" boasting "We are winning. ... It doesn't really matter to us" how long the shutdown lasts "because what matters is the end result."

This isn't some damn game.  The Speaker should have spoken to Kentucky's junior Repub Senator, Rand Paul,  who yesterday had a brief conversation with the state's senior Senator. Rand Paul was picked up on an open microphone maintaining “I think if we keep saying, ‘We wanted to defund it. We fought for that and now we’re willing to compromise on this’, I think they can’t, we’re gonna, I think, well I know we don’t want to be here, but we’re gonna win this, I think.”

There are individuals on both sides who are determined they turn a government shutdown to their political advantage.  They are, after all, called politicians and, it is said, politics ain't beanbag.

But one side, and one Party alone, turned a routine rise in the debt ceiling in 2011 into a political football in which Democrats ended up accepting budget numbers very close to the ones extremist Paul Ryan (R-WI) had proposed.  President Obama having erred by negotiating on the debt ceiling two years ago, the radicals are back.

And chief among them is John Boehner.  While Ted Cruz receives the opprobrium of the left, center, and even some Republicans for demanding the federal government cease operations unless the Affordable Care Act is crippled, Speaker Boehner has led his caucus to rejection of the clean continuing resolutions which have passed the Senate and  has chosen the debt ceiling as his target. For that, he is praised by the mainstream, many Democrats as well as the media, as a "moderate."

President Obama recognizes "the only thing that is preventing (the federal government from reopening) all that from happening right now, today, in the next five minutes is that Speaker John Boehner won't even let the bill get a yes or no vote because he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party,"  That is self-evident.  But given the Speaker's penchant for gimmicks, Boehner had to be called out, and Harry Reid has done it.    The Senate Majority Leader reportedly privately has called Boehner a "coward," which apparently has upset the latter.  So at a press conference (video below) Friday, Reid implored the Speaker to "let the House stop these irresponsible, reckless games and just re-open the government."  He noted Boehner

single-handedly is keeping the government shut. Some recent stories have even suggested the Spaeker is keeping the government shut because I hurt his feelings. That's true. I'm sorry I hurt his feelings but we shouldn't take it out on (public employees)...

We shouldn't be dysfunctional government.  There is no reason to be except for one man. That's Speaker Boehner (who) does not have the courage to stand up to that small band of anarchists.

Sometimes the truth hurts, and this may have hurt even some liberals.  The American Prospect's Paul Waldman argues what "Reid should be doing is giving John Boehner a little space (because) right now, the country is waiting for Boehner to muster the courage to allow the clean CR, and Democrats shouldn't do anything that's bound to make him dig in his heels."

But that is a role better suited to the Compromiser-In-Chief in the White House.  And if Harry Reid's remarks are offensive to Boehner and uncomfortable for Obama, the President can tell the Speaker: "Take your pick. You can deal with me or you can deal with a real Democrat." Good cop, bad cop is a game- and that's something John Boehner relates to.

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