By Tom Cushing
The House Hara Kiri, Act II ? wherein ?The Party of No? becomes ?The Party of No Clue?Uploaded: Mar 3, 2015
On Tuesday, under cover of Israeli PM Netanyahu's domination of the news cycle (more on that tomorrow, or so), House Speaker Boehner allowed the minority Dems to bail him out ? again. He brought a clean Homeland Security funding bill to the House floor, whereupon it passed with mostly Democratic votes.
Thus ended a bizarre couple of months, wherein The Party of No demonstrated that it has become The Party of No Clue. First, it concocted this pre-fab crisis in December -- withholding only Homeland Security funding from a general budget bill, in order to link it with a repeal of the President's executive actions on immigration. Next, when that bluff was called and the GOP Senate passed a clean bill and a Three-week stop-gap bill, the GOP House rejected both ? in favor of a One-week bill, as if that timing difference was somehow significant to anything.
Then on Sunday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of our fair state went on Meet the Press with guns a-blazin'. He tried to make two points to an incredulous Chuck Todd: first, that the House action was necessary to defend the Constitution against Mr. Obama's actions, and second, that the House would stand firm and solve this problem in conference with the Senate, despite Harry Reid (for some reason ? McCarthy might better have mentioned Mitch McConnell as a foe in this fight).
As to those points, it's no more the role of Congress to correct the President's actions than it is the President's role to exceed his authority ? IF, indeed, he did. In our system of checks-and-balances, your teenager will rightly tell you that's the job of the Courts. You know ? those courts in which the GOP partisans have already won Round One of this battle?
And on his second point, somewhere in the swamps around Washington DC, poor Congressman McCarthy is searching in vain for his missing knees. Psssst ? Kevin! The Speaker's got 'em. He's keeping them safe ? along with all those unused teeth-and-nails with which he had promised to engage The Enemy, but didn't.
So, the immediate artificial struggle has been resolved. What are some of the take-aways? I think there are a few.
First, Speaker Boehner is over-matched. His serial tactical blunders in the name of mollifying the fringe-y lunatics of his far right wing have been sorry public spectacles, damaging to the national interest and fatal to his credibility as a leader. Then late last week in response to on-point press questions, he was reduced to babbling an unrelated nursery rhyme, and blowing sarcastic (I think?) kisses to the room. Finally, he abruptly reversed course on this bill, contradicting his prior statements and undercutting his lieutenants. 'Erratic' is an adjective that springs to mind.
Second, and if I keep saying this I may be right someday, I think we have perhaps seen the end of these brinkman's bluffs. They have gone badly for the GOP each time. Sen. Cruz was largely mute in this one; perhaps the other wild-and-crazy guys of the Far Right can be similarly House-broken?
Finally, and more charitably to Speaker Boehner, the GOP House may simply be unmanageable. The rogue 50-75 elephants in that caucus don't seem to have much in common with the rest of the herd. I wonder if we are entering a time when the House becomes further fractured, perhaps on both sides of the aisle, so that wild and wonderful bedfellowage will ensue on specific matters.
Granted that Rep. Pelosi has a much better grip on her Party Faithful, as amply demonstrated this week ? but there is always great diversity in the Dems' big tent. Might a majority coalition of moderate Dems and Republicans emerge and actually, I dunno, DO stuff? Nah, probably not ? but there are just enough rays of hope escaping from that infinitely dense Black Hole to suggest that it might happen again.
In fact, that may be the Only way that ANYthing gets done. As always, stay tuned.