In a country where the people govern, the people stand helplessly by as those who govern in their name drive their country off a cliff. Yesterday the House Republican caucus opened its meeting by singing “Amazing Grace”. That was the high point for the band of self-congratulatory know-nothings who call themselves the Tea Party Caucus. We knew all three verses, Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said. “Isn’t that impressive?” Adding his bass voice to the chorus was John Boehner, the most inept Speaker in history, rivaled only by James Orr (1857-9), the South Carolina Democrat who used his post to promote slavery, support secession and open the way to Civil War.
Some express pity for Boehner, sympathizing with the difficulty of “herding cats” and trying to placate the hardline reactionaries in his party. And it’s clear that many Republicans are hiding behind the Speaker because they fear, above all, a primary challenge from their party’s fanatic fringe. This isn’t about principle; this is politics, pure, simple and in-your-face.
As Speaker of the House and third in line for the presidency, Boehner’s role is to lead his colleagues, not pander to them. “We’re trying to find a way forward in a bipartisan way that would continue to provide fairness to the American people under Obamacare,” he said yesterday, a statement both utterly meaningless and totally dishonest, since the ransom his caucus sought when it kidnapped the country was the destruction of Obamacare.
Why do I keep thinking of the last throes of the Weimar Republic?