Thursday, January 29, 2015

How Boehner's Phony Search for Common Ground has Led the GOP Absolutely Nowhere

by Nomad

Since Obama took office, Speaker of the House, John Boehner has been searching for "common ground." Through crisis after crisis, the same phrase has emerged from his lips. Meanwhile the President has single-handedly pulled the economy out of its swamp.
No wonder his approval ratings are climbing and Congress remains at all time lows.

 Still struggling with his own narrative, Speaker John Boehner this week made some astonishing statements. The remarks probably won't sit well with Tea Party Republicans either. 
In a Wednesday interview on Fox News (where else?) when he was asked if he could hold the GOP together, Speaker of the House John Boehner said "I was the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party."
He sympathized with them to a degree... but not much.
“I understand their concerns, I understand their frustrations. But we have a Constitution that we abide by and we’re going to live by it. And that means we have separate, equal branches of government. And whether people like it or not, Barack Obama is going to be the president for the next two years.”
In other words, Boehner was telling the Tea Party Congress that he was their master and to "suck it up." Get used to it.
He also added that he had no plans to leave his position anytime soon. This wasn't going to be his last term. He said 
“No, no, no. I'll be here for a while,"
The Tea Party have very little choice but to endure Boehner's arrogance, having lost any opportunity to replace him.

In the interview, Boehner expressed his feelings about the president bluntly: 
“We’ve got to find a way to hold him accountable and try to find common ground to get things done on behalf of the American people."
This idea is in conflict with his earlier statement of abiding by a Constitution and our nation "having  separate, equal branches of government." That minor point aside, just how does the Speaker plan to hold the president accountable?
By suing him for using the president's Constitutional right to executive action, of course.

Back in July of 2014, a CNN poll found that 57% disapproved of Boehner's plan to sue the president but among Republicans it was- at least initially- a popular idea with 76% approving of the idea. 
Where's the common groundThose numbers throw a lot of doubt on the phrase "on behalf of the American people." 

The Hunt for Common Ground- Part 1
The phrase "Common ground" is one that Boehner likes to use a lot. In fact, Boehner has been searching for that elusive common ground since President Obama took office. 
A year after President Obama took office, Boehner was using exactly the same rhetoric. When it came to ObamaCare, he told NPR in 2009  that what the two parties had to do was to find common ground. 
"I just think it's time for the president to hit the reset button. Let's just stop all of this. Let's sit down in a bipartisan way and find a way to agree on those things that will make the current system work better."
That's takes a lot nerve coming from a man who earlier that same year, Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) summed up all of Obama's major initiatives as "one big down payment on a new American socialist experiment."Earlier that same month and only nine months into Obama’s presidency , during the Obama's speech on healthcare reform, South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson’s shout "You Lie!" 

Yet, according to Boehner it was time for the only president to hit the reset button and to reach out.

Common Ground without Compromise
Lesley StahlThis common ground phrase was exposed as a bucket load of horse manure in a remarkable exchange between Lesley Stahl and Boehner back in 2010 on 60 minutes. The Speaker told Stahl that Congress had been elected to govern but that it wouldn't involve compromising. 
It was all about finding common ground.  
STAHL: Okay, is that compromising?
BOEHNER: I made it clear I am not going to compromise on my principles, nor am I going to compromise the will of the American people.
STAHL: What are you saying? You’re saying, “I want common ground, but I’m not gonna compromise.” I don’t understand that. I really don’t.
BOEHNER: When you say the word “compromise,” a lot of Americans look up and go, “Uh oh, they’re gonna sell me out.” And so finding common ground, I think, makes more sense.
"Makes more sense" translates to "sounds more acceptable to radical Far Right voters."  The truth is, no matter how Boehner would like to twist it,  it's about semantics or playing with the meanings of the word. 
In a nutshell, four years ago, Boehner thoroughly revealed the problem with his leadership. 
Too bad not a single person in the Republican party even noticed it. 

The Hunt for Boehner's Common Ground- Part 2
In October 2011, Boehner was still talking about common ground with the president when it came to budget reduction. A super-committee was formed to find a way of bringing the two sides together to come up with a budget agreement to avoid sequestration. Boehner told a crowd in Kentucky that he had
" high hopes that in the weeks ahead, this panel will find common ground.”
A month later, the deal collapsed at Boehner's feet. The markets reacted with swift disappointment and fear.  As news spread, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 248 points losing more than 2 percent.

The president, who had supported any approach that would have included a tax increase on the wealthy. issued this statement at the time:
"Despite the broad agreement that exists for such an approach, there are still too many Republicans in Congress that have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington,"
Speaker of the House Boehner
Predictably. the Speaker tried for months to blame the president fall the failure. Then, astonishingly, Boehner revealed the truth, 
In an interview on CNN, he said that Obama hadn't wanted the severe cuts brought about by the Republican-inspired sequestration mechanism. The trillion dollar cuts came as a result of Boehner's refusal to compromise at any level with the White House.
And I, uh, told my colleagues in the House that the sequester will stay in effect until there’s an agreement that will include cuts and reforms that will put us on a path to balance the budget over the next ten years.
As the cuts began taking effect, Boehner was still demanding that Obama abandon Democratic effort to get more tax increases on the 1%. That is something that President Obama has never wavered on and it is something that Obama continues to demand. 

Accountability vs. The Boehner Narrative
In his recent State of the Union, the president- now with his highest approval rating- made that perfectly clear. He called on Congress "to raise taxes and fees on the wealthiest taxpayers and the largest financial firms to finance an array of tax cuts for the middle class, pressing to reshape the tax code to help working families."
In response, Boehner for his part stuck to the narrative. 
“The State of the Union is a chance to start anew, but all the president offered tonight is more taxes, more government, and more of the same approach that has failed middle-class families. These aren’t just the wrong policies, they’re the wrong priorities: growing Washington’s bureaucracy instead of America’s economy.
Predictably, he used his tried and true phrase once more. 
“Finding common ground is what the American people sent us here to do, but you wouldn’t know it from the president’s speech tonight."
As the Obama enters the last years of his presidency, Boehner is still talking about trying to find common ground with the president. Even as he continues to talk about pointlessly suing the president. 

How else can you define lousy leadership? He is still talking about trying to find a way to hold the president "accountable." without himself taking any responsibility for the continual failures that have plagued the Republicans under John Boehner. 

It begs the question: Who is leading the Republican Congress and who is holding them accountable? Perhaps, more importantly, who is holding the Speaker of the House accountable?