The Worst House Speaker Ever?

John Boehnoer

A Reckless Charlatan

 Boehner’s Name will live in Infamy!

Based on the most recent polls the Congress of the United States has a 10% approval rating from the public.  This is the lowest rating on record!  And that was before the Republicans shut down the federal government in a fit of rage, much like a spoiled child who throws a temper tantrum when they can’t get their way.  Only much more is at stake in this tantrum, for the fate of the nation hangs in the balance.

The path the GOP – Grand Obstructionist Party – is taking could well cost lives among the population for whom government benefits are a lifeline.  People such as a mother in Utah – a white American mind you – who explained on MSNBC today that without a special formula her twin babies could die, because it would cost her $750.00 to get it otherwise….and she can’t afford it!

These kinds of stories abound.  There are, for instance, nearly a million civil service workers, people who provide vital services to the American people, that have been locked out of their jobs.  And what is worse several Republican members of the House, the scoundrels who caused this crisis, are now saying that they are not sure whether they will vote to pay these workers for their forced layoff!   This is not only reckless and stupid, it is amoral and evil.   The path the Republicans have chosen is a classic example of folly…in fact it is not too much to say it is criminal folly.

In this instance I am not employing the term “folly” in the usual sense, which the dictionary defines as “a thoughtless or reckless act,” although it certainly meets this definition, but in the sense the historian Barbara Tuchman defines it in her Pulitzer Prize winning book “The March of Folly.” According to Ms. Tuchman, a two time Pulitzer Prize winner, Folly is when a nation chooses a policy that all the objective evidence suggests will lead to disaster.  By this standard the Republican Party is engaged in the extremist folly.

Unable to get its way through the normal democratic process provided by the US Constitution, the Grand Obstructionist Party has decided to use the routine practices of governance such as passing a budget to fund the lawful activities of the of the federal government, and raising the debt ceiling, to re-litigate policy issues that they failed to achieve through the normal process.  In other words, since they were not able to achieve their policy objectives by electing like-minded people they are now trying to force their will on the nation by shutting down our national government altogether.

As is often the case when governments engage in folly it eventually leads to tragedy.  And that is where we are presently headed at break neck speed.  Already poor children who depend upon food stamps, surplus government foods, hot meals at school, and community food pantry’s are going hungry as I write.  And needless to say, while this crisis affects millions of Americans of all races the victims of this Republican folly are disproportionately black…especially women and children.

It is critically important that working and middle class Americans understand what is happening here, because the Tea Party Republicans who are driving the GOP’s legislative agenda are full blown anti-government fanatics who feel that they are on a mission to drastically reduce the federal budget by any means necessary, and they are supported by the voters in their specially designed right-wing Congressional Districts.  There is nothing more dangerous than a group of self-righteous fanatics on a mission.

The extent of their fanaticism is such that these people not only refuse to compromise, they are so reckless they cannot even accept partial victories.   Like all fanatics, whether motivated by sacred or secular ideologies, they want all or nothing and appear quite willing to cut off their nose to spite their face.

President’s original budget request for 2014 was over one trillion dollars, but the Senate Democrats, with the President’s consent have reduced it to almost half that sum in the present budget to a little over 900 billion dollars in an attempt to compromise with the House Republicans in order to pass a budget and fund the government.  The figure they agreed to is actually close to the numbers in the budget proposed by Paul Ryan, which President Obama ran against and won!

Yet although President Obama was reelected on his platform the Republicans in the House, most of whom represent gerrymandered districts – which is to say “safe” Republican districts created by election commissions appointed by the Republican governors in those states, many of whom were elected because they pledged to fight President Obama’s policies.   So they are insulated from the wrath of the national electorate.

This bit of political chicanery has resulted in a situation where the radical far right-wing minority in the Grand Obstructionists Party can blow up the federal government and plunge the nation into one crisis after another without fear of retribution at the polls.   But as their folly in shutting down the Federal government begins to inconvenience citizens who are on holiday in Washington and find national monuments – like the World War II veterans who made a pilgrimage to that sacred shrine honoring their sacrifice and found it closed.

This is why the Republican iconoclasts are attempting to restore funding to select parts of the government to avoid enraging the public; but President Obama will not play that game, he knows that it is folly to try and finance government operations on an ala carte basis.  The Republicans – shameless charlatans that they are – are now running around posing for pictures with the vets and declaring themselves the true friends of the armed forces, although they have recently cut millions in funding for veteran’s benefits from the federal budget.

With all of the chaos the government shutdown is causing, which is damaging to the nation and might fatally injure the Republican Party’s chances at winning the Presidency, the question all thoughtful people are asking is: Why doesn’t Boehner just pit the budget resolution on the floor for a vote by the entire House and end the crisis the members of his caucus created.

The answer alas, is that Boehner is a man who privileges personal ambition over the stability of the nation, because he knows that should he put the bill up and it is passed by a bi-partisan vote he will be stripped of his Chairmanship.  And that’s too great a price to pay for a lower middle class guy from a mid-western hick town who has ascended to a level beyond his boyhood dreams; hence he is drunk on the intoxicating opiate of power.  Boehner loves being Speaker of the House, and he appears all to ready to sell his soul to keep it.

By placing personal ambition over the public interests, Boehner has demonstrated that he is unfit for a job that requires just the opposite.  That’s why he may well be the worst House Speaker ever.   Since he has the misfortune of following Nancy Pelosi wielding the Speaker’s gavel, whose record of accomplishment during her brief tenure in office is one of the most impressive of all times, historians will have little trouble pointing out just what an ineffective sad sack he is.  No wonder he’s always crying.

The Weeper and the Speaker: Johnny and Nancy
John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi
Contemplating their place in History?

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Playthell  G. Benjamin
October 3, 2013
Harlem, New York

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