Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ideology vs. Job Security

So this is what governing looks like?

Yesterday 28 House Republicans joined with House Democrats and passed a clean debt ceiling bill with no strings attached.

Assured that the bill would pass…the 199 remaining Republicans cast their ceremonial vote in opposition…just so they could say they did.

Speaker Boehner had tried for weeks to find consensus within his caucus for any sort of face saving add on bill that would avoid the appearance of complete capitulation. But herding cats is hard and this Speaker is demonstrably bad at his job.

With no consensus in sight, the Speaker abruptly announced to his members that he would bring a clean bill to the floor and allow Democrats to carry the day. “I won’t allow us to become the story” he said.

His announcement was met with total silence. Boehner is said to have stared at his muted audience for a few moments before walking out of the room muttering aloud: “I’m getting this monkey off your back and you’re not even going to clap?”

While the response in the room was somber and silent it stood in stark contrast to the outrage that greeted the Speaker’s public announcement.

“A clean debt ceiling is a complete capitulation on the Speaker’s part and demonstrates that he has lost the ability to lead the House of Representatives let alone his own party. It’s time for him to go. Fire the Speaker.” said Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Martin.

Other conservative outside interest groups offered similar assessments. Senate Conservatives Fund: “John Boehner must be replaced as Speaker of the House.” Club for Growth called the vote “a joke.”

It is easy to be outraged when you are not facing a re-election vote in six months.

A word of caution to those of you who might feel that détente is in the air.

The bill now moves to the Senate where Senator Ted Cruz has vowed to demand the senate require 60 votes to raise the debt limit: “Under no circumstances will I agree to raise the US debt ceiling with no conditions with just 50 votes. I intend to object and force a 60 vote threshold.”

Apparently the esteemed senator from Texas doesn’t realize that his party is still trying to recover from the self inflicted political damage brought about by its part in the government shutdown and the last debt ceiling fiasco. Perhaps Senator Cruz should heed the words of his Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who once said: “There is nothing to be learned from the second kick of a mule.”

What we witnessed in the House yesterday is neither détente nor is it governance.

It is just another example of what so often happens when a politician’s ideology runs head long into his desire to keep his job.

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