Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Dear Nancy Pelosi: When Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen of Politico agree with you, that may be a sign that you're wrong:
House Speaker John Boehner, who by title and position should be the second most powerful person in Washington, sure doesn't seem or sound like it.

He has little ability to work his will with fellow House Republicans. He has quit for good his solo efforts to craft a grand bargain on taxes and spending. And he hasn't bothered to initiate a substantive conversation with President Barack Obama in this calendar year.

All of this recently prompted Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, herself a former speaker, to declare on MSNBC that if Boehner were a woman, he would be known as the weakest speaker in U.S. history....

Boehner tested the lead-from-the-top model for more than a year, working with the White House to craft the grand bargain. It was a flop....

So, he has adopted an entirely different style this year, one of deference: deference to members, deference to committees, and deference to others in leadership....

This can make him look, well, weak. Or, at best, like a bystander in the House he runs....
A couple of weeks ago, VandeHei and Allen were telling us that President Obama is a pathetic loser and everybody in the Beltway hates him, nyah-nyah. Today it's Boehner's turn.

I have no great love for Boehner, but when the Beltway media suggests that deals could be made if President Obama would lead harder!, and Boehner would lead harder!, that's a way of continuing to live in denial about the rottenness of a system that's bigger and more powerful than either of the two men. Obama and Boehner aren't the most and second most powerful people in D.C.; the most powerful people in D.C. are Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, and the right-wing billionaires whose talking points they use to set the terms of every debate, billionaires whose mission in life is to repeal the twentieth century, with their right-wing militias in the House, Senate, and state legislatures doing the grunt work, all enabled by a mainstream press that won't acknowledge what's really going on. I don't know how sincere Boehner is about making deals with the president, but that can't happen, and it couldn't happen with anyone else in his job.

VandeHei and Allen briefly allude to what's really going on:
Boehner runs a House in which many of the traditional levers of power are gone and of little use: earmarks for members' districts, important committee assignments and the backing of party leaders for reelection. Most young conservatives don’t care about any of the three -- and, in fact, see all of them as manifestations of what's wrong with and corrupt about Congress and their party. They get more mileage from snubbing their leaders.
But VandeHei and Allen still think Boehner's problems are mostly of his own making: He doesn't "lead from the top," he doesn't have substantive conversations with Obama....

But he has no room to maneuver, if maneuvering is what he wants. It's the billionaires and the tea party mob they've hired who run Washington. VandeHei and Allen know the fish stinks, but they won't say it stinks from the head.


UPDATE: Charlie Pierce has more:
...this was not a process that began with the 2010 midterms, let alone the election of Barack Obama in 2008. It is the logical end of the long march that began with the collapse of the Goldwater campaign and the movement of conservatism geographically to the South and West, and intellectually toward an outright philosophical resistance to the idea of a national government.

... Right now, we have a polarization based on the fact that an uncontrollable faction of one of our two political parties -- a faction with its own sources of money and power that exist outside conventional political accountability -- has decided that the only thing that the national government should do is nothing, a faction that is perfectly situated to make that at least part of a political reality, and a faction that is growing even faster out in the states than it is in Washington. What is leadership if there's more political profit in ignoring your leaders than in being led? Who, in that case, rules? The truly terrifying answer to that is that nobody does. Or, at least, nobody who is elected does.


Victor said...

For all of the sheer stupidity of these feckin' eedjit's over at Politico, even they're not stupid enough to bite the hands that feed them - those same Conservative Billionaire's you just mentioned.

They may be stupid, but they're not stupid AND crazy!

Victor said...

Nihilists and Anarchists - that's all that's left in the Republican Party.