The Democrats were lying in wait for John Boehner when the Republican leader of the House announced that he would address the subject of congressional reform in a speech Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute.
Before Boehner opened his mouth, Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted him in a statement charging that “Congressional Republicans and Mr. Boehner have stood in the way of Democratic reform efforts in Congress for the last four years, and now they want to take America back to the exact same failed policies of the past that put the corporate special interests ahead of the middle class.”
That is par for the course in this campaign season, and it represents the sort of reflexive partisanship that voters are understandably sick of.
Actually, what it represents is the utterly craven and pointless Republican obstruction that voters are understandably sick of.
And how does The Esteemed Beltway Journalist know what “voters are sick of” anyway? Why, he takes his periodic jaunt to a rib shack in Dubuque or a Rotary Club meeting in Fond du Lac to find some quotes from individuals who perhaps are not as well versed in the art of media spin as he is that reinforce his pre-defined narrative (i.e., Republicans know what’s best, and when they force their agenda, the Dems should respond, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?,” lest there be a breach of “bipartisanship”).
Fortunately, Bob Herbert of the New York Times is a member of the reality-based community, and he wrote the following on The Orange One today (here)…
It’s beyond astonishing to me that John Boehner has a real chance to be speaker of the House of Representatives.
I’ve always thought of Mr. Boehner as one of the especially sleazy figures in a capital seething with sleaze. I remember writing about that day back in the mid-’90s when this slick, chain-smoking, quintessential influence-peddler decided to play Santa Claus by handing out checks from tobacco lobbyists to fellow Congressional sleazes right on the floor of the House.
It was incredible, even to some Republicans. The House was in session, and here was a congressman actually distributing money on the floor. Other, more serious, representatives were engaged in debates that day on such matters as financing for foreign operations and a proposed amendment to the Constitution to outlaw desecration of the flag. Mr. Boehner was busy desecrating the House itself by doing the bidding of big tobacco.
Embarrassed members of the G.O.P. tried to hush up the matter, but I got a tip and called Mr. Boehner’s office. His chief of staff, Barry Jackson, was hardly contrite. “They were contributions from tobacco P.A.C.’s,” he said.
When I asked why the congressman would hand the money out on the floor of the House, Mr. Jackson’s answer seemed an echo of Willie Sutton’s observation about banks. “The floor,” he said, “is where the members meet with each other.”
The Times’s Eric Lipton, in an article last month, noted that Mr. Boehner “maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R.J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.
“They have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his Boehner for Speaker campaign, which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed.”
The hack who once handed out checks on the House floor is now a coddled, gilded flunky of the nation’s big-time corporate elite.
And let us not forget the following Boehner moment here, in which he said “Know that I have all of you in my trusted hands” to the Consumer Bankers Association, which ended up losing as a result of legislation to reform the student loan scam enacted under the happily-now-long-departed 109th Congress.
Returning to Broder, I give you the following…
What Boehner called “a cycle of gridlock” afflicts both sides of the Capitol, and has been enabled by both parties, depending on who had the majority. As he was honest enough to admit, the abuses did not start when Pelosi took the gavel, and both sides have been guilty of twisting the rules.
Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if Broder were “honest enough to admit” this?
Update 10/12/10: And in case anyone out there thought I was exaggerating, I give you this from one of Broder’s pals (h/t Atrios).
(Repug U.S. House Rep “Joe” Cao of Louisiana) said he wanted to work for the benefit of his constituents, whatever that took. So when it came time earlier this year to vote on the House floor on President Obama’s massive healthcare bill, the first Republican to hold that district since 1891 became the only Republican in the entire House to vote in favor of the Democratic president’s bill.
His wasn’t the deciding vote. But, yes, that bipartisan decision caused him some grief among GOP colleagues.
Cao hoped the president might reward that bipartisanship by endorsing him in the Nov. 2 midterm election against a Democratic state legislator named Cedric Richmond. Or at least by staying out of the race, one of 435 across the country.
And this gives Malcolm an excuse in his utterly demented quest to demonize every possible thing Obama does (including stuff Malcolm imagines, like this).
As noted here, Cao did vote initially for passage of health care reform, but he voted against the version that emerged from the Senate-House conference, which is a particular problem for him because one-fifth of the residents of his district don’t have health insurance. That has a lot more to do with Cao’s current electoral trouble than anything Obama could have said or done.
As noted here, though, Malcolm has been wrong about health care reform before, and I’m sure will be again; when it comes to his own particular brand of wankery, I’m afraid he is beyond hope of a cure.
And I would say that that presents a good opportunity to move, at long last (even in a potential lame duck session) on the bill to investigate the attacks sponsored by Dem U.S. House Rep Rush Holt here.