Thursday, January 3, 2013

With Friends Like These

Representative John Boehner (R-OH) was reelected as Captain of the Titanic today in a surprising show of unity among the House of Representatives’ GOP caucus members.

“There is a political iceberg up ahead, and no one is better qualified to steer us directly into it than John Boehner”, said a relieved Paul Ryan.  “His election frees my time to rearrange the deck chairs until 2016.”

Boehner sealed his victory with the catchy slogan, “Down with the ship!”

Republican President Abraham Lincoln famously surrounded himself with the political figures of his day that publicly and privately wished and worked for his failure in office.  Lincoln’s philosophy was to keep his friends close and his enemies even closer, and up until that fateful trip to see a play in April 1865, his plan worked.  A century and a half later, Doris Kearns Goodwin would popularize the phrase “Team of Rivals” to describe Lincoln’s contrarian leadership strategy.

Like Lincoln, House Speaker John Boehner is surrounded by a team of rivals, but not of his choosing.  At this point, he might relish a balcony seat to see Our American Cousin.  That may be his only way out of this mess of a Congress.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader and his #2 (insert your own #2 joke here), is a man who enjoys shoving his leader directly into incoming traffic.  When Chris Christie wanted to know from his buddy Eric why the Sandy relief bill was put on hold, Boehner’s pal recognized the oncoming bus and pushed.  Cantor told Christie that is was the Speaker’s decision, and Cantor knew that nugget would remain private for about as long as the conversation lasted.

Predictably, Christie publicly lashed out and crushed Cantor’s boss.

Leading GOP personality and eventual 2016 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Christie had an opening to pile on Boehner and did so with New Jersey-inspired gusto.  Armed with the news that Boehner had killed the relief bill for his stricken state, Christie hammered away, saying in response to a question, “At the moment, I wouldn’t be looking to do much for House leadership.”

Christie could not resist and let his anger at the Speaker flow freely like his belly over his belt.  “I’m not going to get into the specifics of what I discussed with John Boehner today,” Christie said in a Wednesday news conference. “But what I will tell you is there is no reason for me at the moment to believe anything they tell me.”

Ouch.  Now I know why tigers eat their young.  The GOP presidential primary is still 3 years away.

His joint statement with Democratic Governor of NY, Andrew Cuomo, added more fuel to the pyre.
“It has now been 66 days since Hurricane Sandy hit and 27 days since President Obama put forth a responsible aid proposal that passed with a bipartisan vote in the Senate while the House has failed to even bring it to the floor. This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented.”

I like how Christie dropped in the praise for Obama within the statement.  Insert knife, twist, repeat.
Boehner’s fellow Republican Congressman Peter King also had some kind words to share with America about his party’s Speaker.

“I can’t imagine that type of indifference, that type of disregard, that cavalier attitude being shown to any other part of the country,” King said. He then praised Majority Leader Cantor for trying to get the bill on the calendar.  Cantor may be a policy idiot, but the guy gets politics.

“Majority Leader Cantor has been very straightforward. Last night I know he was fighting to get the bill on the calendar. It was the speaker who walked off the floor and said for whatever reason that the bill was being pulled.  When people are talking about real life-and-death situations here, to just have the speaker walk off and not even tell us…”

As Cliff Clavin’s buddy Norman Peterson once said, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and I’m wearing milk bone underwear.”  Boehner today knows what Norm was talking about courtesy of Rep. King.

Paul Ryan stood with the House Speaker, at least until the next poll reveals what everyone else already knows.  Boehner is becoming toxic in a bipartisan way.  That did not stop the Speaker from holding together his coalition today to win reelection as House Speaker for the next 2 years.  

Boehner’s Republican Team of Rivals is undeterred.  I smell a civil war brewing, and Obama didn’t build that.  The GOP owns this one.

“Other than that, how’d you like the play, Speaker Boehner?”

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