Chan Lowe: Boehner and the shutdown

So it has come to this. The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives — third in the line of succession for the presidency — must resort to telling an open, obvious, transparent lie in order to maintain his position.


The lie fools nobody, except for the low-information voters who sent the tea party conservatives to Washington. By telling us that there aren’t enough votes to pass a clean continuing resolution (a funding bill that would restart our government without involving Obamacare), John Boehner, who may go down as one of the most craven politicians in recent memory, has sacrificed what little integrity he had left as a politician and an American.


Everyone — even Boehner’s own caucus — knows that there are enough pragmatic Republicans from purple districts who would be happy to vote “yea” with the Democrats to reopen the doors, but if Boehner were to resort to this sensible solution, he would probably lose his job as speaker. That is, unless the Democrats rewarded him with their votes (and Nancy Pelosi would probably have something to say about that).


The lie makes a nice, tight sound bite on the usual conservative media outlets. It will trickle down to the conservative ideologues who bother to vote in Republican congressional primaries. Meanwhile, these same ideologues don’t realize they’ve sent people to represent them who are like Mickey Mouse in the Fantasia version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice —novices who dabble with powerful mojo, and who finally become aware of the consequences only after they’ve spun out of control.


Republican state legislators gerrymandered these districts, so the people who live in them can hardly be blamed for performing like trained seals at the ballot box. You can’t even blame the congressional tea partiers for being intransigent; they’re only heeding their mandate.


But you can certainly blame an experienced politician like John Boehner, who so loves his power that he’s willing to take the country down in order to keep it.


Maybe it’s time Boehner took one for the team. He’s been suckling at the public teat long enough to owe the rest of us at least that much.


And it isn’t like he’s going to lose his day job as a U.S. Representative from Ohio. He might even be remembered as a hero, of sorts.




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