If, like me, you have been completely stumped about the current face off between the powers that be in America, the article below should prove valuable. It is said after-all, that when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold.
As speaker, he has a higher responsibility
BY WILL MARSHALL / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
There’s a way out. Will he take it?
The government of the United States of America is closed for business today, courtesy of the Republican Party. It’s a national embarrassment, like a scene from the Marx Brothers’ classic 1933 satire “Duck Soup,” only without the anarchic humor.
Who produced today’s farce? Was it the Tea Party hotheads, 50 or so House Republicans who love ideological combat but hate governing? Or was it Sen. Ted Cruz, perhaps the most cunning demagogue America has produced since Joe McCarthy?
All played their discreditable parts. But the man in the director’s chair is John Boehner, who is bidding for the title of worst House speaker in U.S. history.
Why Boehner? Because he knows better, and could have prevented the shut-down. And because, as America’s third-ranking constitutional officer, after the President and vice president, he is supposed to serve America’s interests — not the febrile demands of his party’s most rabid partisans. That’s Eric Cantor’s job.
Boehner is by all accounts a decent and patriotic man. He was there in the mid-1990s when the Gingrich Republicans shut the government down. He knows that the GOP’s tantrum rejuvenated Bill Clinton and set him on course to a surprisingly easy reelection.
So what explains Boehner’s abject subservience to his party’s most extreme and hateful voices? One possibility is that he likes being speaker, even if that means putting his manhood in a blind trust. Or maybe Boehner has drunk deeply of the Tea Party Kool-Aid, and actually believes that Obamacare is about to crush the life out of the U.S. economy.
But wait: Aren’t speakers also party leaders? Yes, and like Nancy Pelosi and Tip O’Neill, they can be tough partisans, too. But the great speakers recognize that, when the crunch comes, their first duty is to country, not party. And the crunch has come.
It’s one thing to vote your principles. But shutting down the U.S. government and threatening its “full faith and credit” go way beyond the normal bounds of acceptable political conflict. They are threats to the integrity of our nation and economy, and the wellbeing of our people.
The front page of the NY Daily News on October 1, 2013.
Boehner’s office complains that it’s President Obama who is being recalcitrant and refusing to negotiate. This is disingenuous. Had the speaker proposed a negotiation over the federal budget, the White House would be at the table. After all, the budget impasse is why we need a continuing resolution to fund the government.
And in fact, Obama and the Democrats already have made one huge concession to Republican demands for austerity: The resolution continues the sequesters’ wrongheaded cuts in defense and domestic investment.
But instead of a waging a legitimate budget battle, Boehner has acquiesced in conservatives’ obsessive and undemocratic crusade to eviscerate Obamacare. Since they lack the votes to kill health-care reform, the Republicans are holding a gun to the head of the U.S. economy and threatening to shoot if Obama doesn’t agree to undo his biggest accomplishment.
That’s not a negotiation, it’s extortion. It’s like telling your neighbor you’ll burn his house down if he doesn’t give you his life savings.
This is so tactically boneheaded that you wonder whether the lacrimonious Boehner might not have an unsuspected Machiavellian streak. Maybe he thinks the only way to check the raging tide of GOP fanaticism is to give the Tea Party its head, take the country to the brink of disaster, and then let the party reap the whirlwind of a fierce public backlash. Could the speaker be skillfully draining the toxins from his caucus so that, after this crisis, sobered Republicans will be ready to start compromising and governing again?
If only. Boehner seems to prize the unity of his caucus more than its sanity. So he’s given up leading and is simply enabling the mob. This is the Boehner shutdown.
The speaker, of course, could end this crisis right now, this morning, by the simple expedient of putting a “clean” bill to fund the government on the House floor. Enough Republicans would join with virtually all the Democrats to pass the bill.
The Tea Party, of course, would turn its fury on Boehner. But at some point, the leaders of the Republican Party are going to have to stand up to the crazies in their midst. It’s conceivable that such a courageous stand could cost Boehner the speakership. But he would gain the respect and esteem of most Americans, including many temperate Republicans who lack the guts to follow his example. Who knows, one day they might even name a Congressional office building after him.
Marshall is the president of the Progressive Policy Institute.
Culled from nydailynews.com