This Year Kris Kringle May Be Making Adults out of Children
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Republicans in the House thought they could even beat Santa Claus but they exhausted his patience and the public got so angry with their shenanigans that it could cost them severely politically. That in essence is the sum-up of a crazy week within the congressional Republican leadership on the one hand and with the White House and Democrats on the other. Since the Senate acted last Saturday by a 89-10 to extend the payroll tax roll-back for an additional two months, with a majority of Senate Republicans joining Democrats in the vote, House Speaker Boehner’s efforts to achieve a twelve month extension were destined to failure—the only question being how, when, and how ugly. Even before Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call yesterday for Boehner to bring the House in line and close up shop for the holidays, the Wall Street Journal’s devastating editorial on Wednesday should have told Boehner to give up the fight considering how much damage he and his colleagues in the House leadership already had done to their own electoral chances.
For five days he and the GOP had looked more and more foolish by the hour as they were determined to create another stand-off as they did in the summer over raising the debt ceiling and again before Thanksgiving over the report of the “super-committee”, and as many Republicans have been doing since President Obama took office. This time they lost and got egg all over their faces.
Historically, politics in this country had winners and losers. For the past three years at least politics has produced almost only stand-offs. In the beginning of his new book on John Kennedy, Chris Matthews mentions that his own boss in the 1980’s, House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill, referred to President Ronald Reagan as an adorable ideologue. In fact, despite leading a Democratic Congress, O’Neill lost many of his fights with his golfing friend and fellow Irishman. Like Boehner, Tip O’Neill wanted to win, but he understood that the way politics worked was that you lose sometimes and win sometimes, but you hope the voters think your wins were more important than your loses; whereas today the system is just broken. The theory today is if I do not win, there is no game!
Like President Obama—although the President did very well in this fight—Speaker Boehner is not demonstrating the leadership ability which should be carrying his Party. According to Politico.com one source predicts that Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who seems to be the darling of the Tea-Party wing of the Republican Party, is hanging around ready to push the Speaker out. Perhaps this last fight will energize Boehner to truly follow his own head and lead his troops in a more traditional style when they return in January; but do not expect it.
Meanwhile, Air Force One is sitting ready on the tarmac at Andrews awaiting instructions to be fueled once President Obama signs the House-Senate compromise, so that the President canmake to Hawaii before Santa Claus.