Cutting Through The Crap

Monday, August 1, 2011

What Might Have Been



Second only to President Obama, Nancy Pelosi is the Democrat Republicans are sworn to hate. Reflexively. In that context, this article presents an interesting comparison between what she accomplished, how she acted in her job as Speaker of The House of Representatives, and how John Boehner has been performing in the same role.

When Nancy Pelosi served as Speaker of the House, her job was conditioning her members for disappointment. It was Pelosi who had to bring them around to a Senate-designed health-care law that lacked a public option, a cap-and-trade bill that gave away most of its permits, a stimulus that did too little, a bank bailout that endangered their careers. Pelosi had to do that because, well, that’s what the speaker of the House has to do. To govern is to compromise. And when you’re in charge, you have to govern.

Lately, Boehner has not been governing. After he failed to pass a conservative resolution to the debt crisis without Democratic votes, he should have begun cutting the deals and making the concessions necessary to gain Democratic votes. That, after all, is what he will ultimately have to do. It’s what all this is supposed to be leading up to.

But Boehner went in the opposite direction. He made his bill more conservative. He indulged his members in the fantasy that they wouldn’t have to make compromises. It’s as if Pelosi, facing criticism for dropping the public option, had tried to shore up her support by bringing a single-payer health-care bill to the floor. Even if that would have pleased her left wing, what good would it have done her? Her job was to prepare her members to take a vote that could lead to a successful outcome.

It's amazing how dramatically the election of a relative handful of political jihadists to Congress has changed the dynamic of a system that had been working pretty well for over a couple hundred years. A system founded in and based on good faith cannot, evidently, function at all in the face of a minority to whom the term has no meaning.

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