As noted in a companion article this week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) recently compared the president’s financial reform bill to “using a nuclear weapon to kill an ant.” This may be an apt analogy, but without further explanation as to why this is so, such heated rhetoric plays right into Obama’s sleight-of-hand campaigning abilities. And sure enough, Obama wasted no time in belittling Boehner’s half-baked attempt to criticize the bill. As is normally the case, the one who has the last argument usually wins.
Another of our articles this week explains that it is the hedge fund short sellers who need to be reigned in because of the destructive impact they have on our capital markets; however, Obama’s bill leaves them untouched. Why doesn’t Rep. Boehner make this point? Does he, like so many elitists in Washington, think that the average American is too dumb to understand this concept? Why not try treating us like adults for a change, instead of trading the “my dad is bigger than your dad” type of schoolyard barbs?
The same John Boehner failed, however, to have the back of Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) who had the “audacity” to apologize to the CEO of British Petroleum for Obama’s $20 billion “shakedown” of the beleaguered company. As a result, Barton himself had to apologize (to whom, BP for apologizing to them?). This brought back memories of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) having to apologize for his “You lie!” shout-out at Obama during the president’s last State of the Union address. There is a glaring inconsistency in Boehner’s leadership when he allows himself to throw barbs at Obama, however ill-aimed, but then refuses to at least provide some cover for his troops when they do so. Doesn’t he realize that when he fails to protect his colleagues, his own credibility is undermined along with theirs?
Republicans, especially their leaders, must realize that their hyper-sensitive opposition allows no criticism to go unanswered. By playing a continuous game of hardball, the Democrats normally, with the help of a mostly-friendly media, can stay on the offensive and keep the Republicans back-pedaling. This has been the MO of the Democrat Party for years, and yet the Republicans still, by and large, have not learned how to effectively deal with it. In large measure, this is why the Democrats have to screw up monumentally, a la Jimmy Carter or the first two years of Clinton, to open the door for the Republicans to gain control of anything. This year is no different in that sense; the Republicans are playing the same schizophrenic game of acting overconfident and being defensive at the same time, while the hapless administration continues to pitch them grooved fastballs to hit out of the park.
On the Senate side, these Republican tendencies are exemplified in Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who emulates his friend and hero John McCain as a sort of “maverick” that provides sound bites the “mainstream” press love to hear. His latest ramblings on the alleged disjointedness and ineffectiveness of the Tea Party movement surely did that movement no favors and provided fuel for media claims that the Tea Party is damaging Republican unity more than it is harming the Democrats’ electoral chances this November. Graham further claimed that the Tea Party would ultimately die out, showing not only a misunderstanding of what is driving this movement but an elitist’s utter contempt for their goals and values.
To further illustrate the Republicans’ ability to self-destruct or snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, this week’s E-Mail of the Week describes Boehner’s and Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s lame attempt to end-around a colleague’s effort to repeal Obamacare. What Boehner and Cantor apparently wish to do is have a replacement bill at the ready if and when repeal takes place. However, there may be no more opportunity in this scenario to vet the replacement bill than there was for the original, given Obama’s and the Congressional Democrats’ stonewalling during the passage process. Boehner seems to be too quick to answer the anticipated challenge that anti-repealers will have: What do you propose that’s any better? And an Obamacare “lite” is certainly not the answer, but would be the only possibility while Congress is safely in Democrat hands.
If there’s one thing of which I’m confident, it’s that the American people crave sound, common-sense leadership that takes the country in a direction supportive of American values—that is, less-intrusive government, lower spending and taxation, stout defense of our sovereignty, and more freedom. What we don’t need are Republicans who, despite their sometimes tough talk, kowtow to the Washington elitists, or even become like them, at the end of the day.