Friday, December 13, 2013

Douchebag of the Week (12/13/13): John Boehner...

We haven't handed out many DOW awards recently, what with the only possible winner being our President it hardly seemed worth the effort, but yesterday was a different story.

For yesterday, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner did something so fantastically stupid that it almost vies for the top spot on the Douchiest Things Any Human Being Could EVER Do In Order To Be Considered The Biggest Douche In The Universe List.

What, pray, did our intrepid, crybaby Speaker do? Gather 'round, my children, and I shall spin you a tale.

What the Orange Asswipe did was to take to a podium to browbeat the Tea Party and Fiscal Conservatives over their vocal opposition to the new Ryan-Murray budget "compromise" bill that seems set to pass Congressional Muster very soon. Boehner was angry that Tea Party republicans/fiscal conservatives would dare to criticize this budget deal, and that they should STFU if they knew what was good for them.

Now, that is a very unusual position for anyone not named Obama to take when it comes to dealing with legitimate criticism, offered in the context of a freewheeling political debate within a country that both guarantees the right to and encourages vigorous debate on any subject under the sun, and quite a few that should never see the light of day.

One saw in that tantrum a Boehner that seems to have a bug up his ass at what he sees as unfair criticism (and let's face it; when you've been criticized as much as Cryin' John for everything from your lack of guts to your unnatural neon orange glow, you probably have a short temper when it comes to criticism. Or maybe he was just suffering from cramps and water retention?). Maybe, just maybe, John has gotten to the end of his rope vis-a-vis these Tea party parvenus -- especially the ones that want his head yesterday -- but hey, guess what, Johnny Boy? they got company just about everywhere.

The particulars of the deal are largely irrelevant. When you live in a country hurtling towards $20 trillion in debt, the savings of a few score billion, at most, seems trivial. The spin that has been generated by some GOP congresscritters on the TV talking head programs about the deal -- this idea that we still get to keep 60/70/90-percent of the 'sequester' cuts over the long haul --- only heightens the sense among many that we're being sold a load of goods, once again. In a country that has been sold destruction of the healthcare and insurance industries, crony capitalism, phony Green Energy 'investments', spiraling debt, Benghazi's protest-gone-out-of-hand nonsense, surrender in the face of the Mullahs as 'progress' as something spectacularly wonderful by the Other Side, you cannot blame your own side for feeling that some sheep are about to pulled over someone's wool.

After all, Johnny you were the general who presided over a good many of those things, either as Minority or Majority Leader, or Speaker, and while you may not be personally responsible for them all you certainly haven't shown much in the way of being able to slow that runaway train of stupidity down, or of making much of a case that if only YOU had been in charge that things would look much different.

You are, after all, not all that much different than your counterparts -- Obama, Pelosi, Reid -- that is to say, a ticket-punching apparatchik. You may espouse a different political philosophy, but your bread was still buttered the same way theirs was, by being, above all, a Loyal Party Man.

But why, one asks, was the defense of what is really just a hold-the-line delaying tactic, and which should have been explained that way, something that required Boehner to attack the very people his party is going to depend upon next year to deliver majorities in both House and Senate? What the heck is going on here? Why does Boehner suddenly seem to have developed a pair of testes, and then, inexplicably, decided to apply the resulting influx of testosterone against his own? An explanation is in order.

But since we're not likely to get one from either Boehner himself, or from the 'official' quarters of the GOP, I will have to engage in some speculation as to why this is. Here goes, in no particular order:

1. Congress, and especially the GOP-dominated House, is about as popular as a battery acid enema. Much of this stems from the fact that House Republicans are a rather, shall we say, asinine lot. And I say this as a stalwart republican. Just look at who runs things there, after all.  Boehner is ably assisted in his stupidity by another milquetoast in the form of Eric Cantor. The two of them remind me of those episodes of South Park, where Butters plays superhero with his little friend Dougie, and they become Professor Chaos and General Disarray.

When you're operating in the public eye under the handicap that the rest of the planet believes you to be a complete dingus, you get to be a little touchy, admittedly. Especially when you have few achievements of your own to point to or to deflect criticism. Had Boehner been able to turn his newly-won GOP majority in the House into something concrete and positive, rather than being able to simply stymie the hated Obamatards at every turn (appreciated, but not exactly exciting), then perhaps the criticism would cease.

But accomplishing something like that would require talent. Like for politics, and stuff. And would be hard work. Does John Boehner strike you as someone who either has any talent or who does anything harder than sit under a tanning light? Besides, you have all them pictures of yourself playing golf with Adolf Hit...erm...I mean President Obama, a man who gives millions indigestion as soon as his face shows up on television.

No, Johnny Boy, the criticism is just. Perhaps you did have a hell of a mountain to climb, but not only did you fail to climb it, you never even left base camp.

2. Congress is Unpopular, Part II. Mostly this is for two reasons: a) Congress is full of doofuses, and b) the doofuses never seem capable of compromising and getting something productive or reasonable done. True, there was a compromise here, but the jury is out on whether or not it will be a productive, reasonable enterprise.

Which might be the source of Captain Naranja's anger. He's been getting blasted for Congress having not achieved much in the positive, and here is an actual achievement that they're trying to spin as a positive, and it's being criticized. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. Nature of the beast. Suck it up and soldier on.

So maybe Boehner's objection is that the institution is being unfairly attacked for doing what most of America (actually, most of the Press) has begged it to do for much of the last five years -- get some of that bi-partisan compromise shit that Chris Matthews loves so much going and produce something, anything, that at least smells better and has less flies on it than what Congress typically produces.

And the rubes won't buy it.

Perhaps because the Institution has such a foul reputation that no amount of "bi-partisanship" (and I'll deal with this word in a second) can disguise the fact that if it looks like shit, still smells slightly like shit, that it probably is shit.

As to bi-partisanship. This is a code word. It really means that one side has managed to bribe the other enough so that they both can take some blame when their crimes are finally discovered. For democrats, this little bit of bi-partisanship is merely window-dressing; they have to run for election again next year, and perhaps the second-worst label they can be tagged with is "profligate spender". The biggest is ObamaCare, but they can't do anything about that now. Suffice to say, that all you'll hear from campaigning democrats next year is 'fiscal responsibility' and 'deficit reduction' and they'll point to their vote on this nonsense as proof of their credibility on the issue.

For the GOP, bi-partisanship is a shield that they will use to try (and fail) to deflect the enormous criticism machine of the American press which is permanently aimed in their direction. Whenever they're accused by MSNBC of being unreasonable, they'll point to this agreement and say "hey, we crossed the isle and worked with your side" and try to use that to quell the resulting shitstorm.

This will fail,. largely because the American press is de facto and de jure an arm of the DNC. It has no vested interest in giving the GOP credit for anything, let alone for giving democrats at least half of what they wanted. The GOP has to learn that it cannot win the propaganda war with the mainstream press, no matter how much it compromises. It must also learn that whenever it compromises it seems to take the worst of the deal, because the overriding concern for them is to make a deal above all else (to show they've accomplished something) and the devil is always hidden in the details (so that they don't have to admit what they've given away).

The optics of the recent government shutdown and the mock heroics of Ted Cruz must weigh heavily on John Boehner's mind, these days. It does not matter that, in the end, people like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz were right to try and force a government shutdown -- the public's attention has already waned on that subject -- the idea is that the only thing they will remember about the whole affair is that the Republicans made grandma's Social Security check late by a few days, and a soldier somewhere didn't get buried because his family didn't get the death benefit check in time for the funeral. The GOP is deathly afraid of being blamed for things like that, and with the possibility of reliving that drama all over again, it was perhaps thought better to cave on a few billion here and there than to hold the line of fiscal sanity.

Because that's how you get Rachel Maddow to like you, you know. Despite the fact that having Rachel Maddow in your corner is probably the next best thing to having simultaneous terminal cases of AIDS, Lupus and Ebola, it's probably not such a good thing to be seen as letting your opponent off the mat just as the ref is about to count "three".

3. Frankly, when you're poised to recapture both houses of Congress because your ideological enemies can't stop shooting themselves in the ass, it's probably not such a good thing to beat your own side like a rented mule.

One characteristic of the GOP in the last 30 years is that it is perfectly capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory on any given day. At any time, someone is capable of going off the reservation and do something stupid.that threatens to undermine the GOP majority, when they have one. Typically, this is someone who has higher aspirations who has to make some bold move or statement to distinguish himself from the crowd, or as the Press likes to say, prove that he's "a moderate", which is a code word for traitor who gave the demos what they wanted/needed. Sometimes, it's just hubris; the R's get just as carried away with power as the D's.

Here is Boehner shouting down his base. Is he trying to position himself for something greater in the future by showing the likes of Matt Lauer that he's capable of standing up to his own party, and therefore, not your typical caricature of a republican? Probably not. As I've said, John Boehner is not a worker, and it takes work to be President of the United States or to stay Speaker of the House.

Is Boehner trying to soften the GOP brand ahead of the mid-term elections by portraying the House GOP as more moderate than those whackjob God-Guns-and-Gays types and them Tea Party people? Maybe, but to what end? To prevent the Tea Party and Fiscal conservatives from running primary opponents against his majority members? Hey, it was the Tea Party and Fiscal Conservatives that GAVE you that Majority in the first place!

4. Are we seeing, at long last, the schism that must occur between the more Fiscally-conservative and Constitutional wing of the GOP and the more traditional, machine-driven, coalition of religious idiots and single-issue voters that prop the likes of Boehner up? Perhaps. Is this a good thing? Damned straight.

For the GOP, just like any brand name, any corporation, any sports team, needs to evolve in order to succeed on a continual basis. That means some people have to go, and new ones get brought in. It means old ideas must be re-examined, and those that are either no longer operative or defective, get chucked. It means that a new electoral coalition must be formed, one that looks nothing like the one that brought such otherwise unremarkable people like John Boehner to power.

So, here's Boehner, and he's surrounded; on one side you have the democrats who are always out for his scalp on general principles. On another, you have the coalition-by-formula-and-party-apparatus which is both failing and flailing, but upon which he depends. On a third side, you have a new, energetic, but badly maligned (even if they are right) force that seeks to unseat him, too. What would you do?

You dance with who brung you, is what. You don't bite the hand that feeds you. You try to maintain the status quo. You might try to discredit your frenemies by perpetuating the unfair stereotypes the media (who's love and attention you want so badly)  created about them. You try to put a newer and sexier shade of lipstick on the same old pig, and maybe get her a breast enhancement, too.

You do something stupid, like forget the First Rule of Politics:

If you can't say something nice about the people you'll need to vote for you and your party in a year, then Shut The Fuck Up.

I don't particularly like most Tea Party people, either. But I happen to agree with them on most things. If they have an issue, it's that they usually find the worst examples to advocate for their beliefs. They'll learn.

But John Boehner seems incapable of learning. Then again, he's seemed incapable of doing much of anything for many years now. Except for picking up a paycheck and turning on the waterworks at the drop of a hat.

Even Barack Obama has better political skills and instincts than that. His weakness is that he's even dumber than Boehner.

So, for being a complete asshat and alienating the very voters you will count upon next November, for possessing an infallible instinct to do the wrong thing at the wrong time for the wrong reason every goddamned day of your life, for being a total dickwad in the face of American citizens exercising their Constitutional right to call you out on everything you've ever done in your life, and for having the unmitigated gall to walk around in public in that Rustoleum-like skin tone, you John Boehner, are our Douchebag of the Week.

Enjoy shithead, and here's hoping you get an early retirement.

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