John Boehner seems like a nice enough guy. The truth is, I feel kind of sorry for him. He doesn’t seem like a ideologue. It’s possible that over the years, he’s come to realize that his party has no ideas other than the commitment to stay in power. Every time I see him, he looks like he would much rather be in a bar somewhere drinking. (And I’m pretty sure he spends a large part of the time I don’t see him doing exactly that.) At this point, I suspect his beliefs have ossified and he doesn’t even think about it any more. Outside of the House, he’d probably be an all right guy.
Having said that, I’m really enjoying this whole thing. The Republicans (and to a lesser extent the whole conservative movement) is in a full tilt meltdown. I don’t usually allow myself to experience this much schadenfreude, but I think I deserve this. It isn’t just that the vote for “Plan B” had to be called off. It is that they went ahead with a really vile spending cut bill to woo recalcitrant Republicans. This bill was a great big “Fuck you!” to a large majority of America. And they voted for it, because—and I don’t say this lightly—Republicans hate America. They have a hard time passing up any opportunity to flip off the Home of the Brave.
Had Boehner’s little tactical move worked, it still probably wouldn’t have worked. If, through some miracle that almost certainly would have required putting some blood on a page for Mephistopheles, Boehner had managed to force an Obama veto, who would have cared? At best, there would have been enough coverage to note the repellent nature of the harsh spending cuts on the poor in order to save tax cuts for the rich. This all brings me back to my suggestion a couple weeks ago in, The Obama-Boehner Conspiracy: Boehner understood all along that there could be no deal this year.
In the end, I don’t think this is really about Boehner. What we are seeing is how a movement that believes in very little other than power deals with a situation in which they have no power. Although even when they have power, their thinking seems only to converge on doing more damage to the Democrats. These people really don’t have any idea what they want to do. If suddenly they had 538 Republican members in Congress as well as control of the White House, they would be very confused. Sure: they would lower taxes and cut spending for just about everything. But otherwise? What would be the point of running a government they think is by definition too large?
But for now, it is a hell of a lot of fun watching them implode.
I understand that conservatives love some idea that they call “America.” It is usually the country as they perceive it must have been at some earlier time: in the 1950s or the 1780s. But the truth is, what we are is pretty much what we’ve always been: for good and for ill. So they love some myth while they hate the fact of their country.