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David Gaul
Shelby County Democratic Party Co-Chair


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David Gaul
Donna Clothier
Kathleen Cue

A SPEAKER WHO SPEAKS FOR NO ONE

Speaker of the House John Boehner has a problem, a very serious problem.   He is second in the line of succession to the Presidency.  He is theoretically the most influential Republican in the country.  When he steps to a microphone, cameras switch on.  Networks take note.  Newspapers and news websites feature his name in their lead paragraphs.  Twitter comments fly back and forth; maybe he starts trending.  To the outsider and the uninitiated, John Boehner is a man of great power.  It is an illusion...

John Boehner is impotent. 

Imagine how he must feel.  Imagine the degradation.  Imagine the embarrassment.  Every freshman congressman in the history of the republic must have harbored, at one time or another, a dream of one day becoming the Speaker of the House when they first set foot in the House chamber.  For John Boehner, that dream finally became a reality  in January of 2011.  He had reached the pinnacle of power for a congressman.  Beyond that office, nothing else awaited him.  He would not become a brain trust unto himself, a la Newt Gingrich.  He would not embark on a lucrative lecture circuit, a la Newt Gingrich.  Pundit status would never be accorded to him.   Beyond that office, golfing would be in his future or maybe a plush office inside an influential lobbying firm.  For John Andrew Boehner, the speakership represented the pinnacle of power for a man of his ambition.

But Sam Rayburn he is not.  His power has evaporated.   Indeed, one can argue his power never materialized.  His title only came as a result of the tea party invasion of Congress in the elections of 2010, and he serves at the behest of that group of insurgents.  They giveth, and they taketh away.  And who leads this bunch?  Brilliant parliamentarian statesmen?  Brilliant parliamentarian stateswomen?  Folks like Benjamin Disraeli. William Gladstone, Lloyd George and Margaret Thatcher? 

Sadly, no.

The Svengalis in the needless drama that is now paralyzing the country are folks with infinitely more modest traits.  They include Michele Bachmann, Steve King and Louie Gohmert; a more ignoble trio of puppet masters has rarely been glimpsed in the halls of Congress, at least not in these modern, more flash-communicative times.

"Oh, the humanity!" 

The words of reporter Herb Morrison covering the 1937 crash of the Hindenburg  are fitting.  How could something like this have happened to John Boehner?    How could a lady who mistook the iconic actor John Wayne for serial killer John Wayne Gacy bring down the Speaker?  How could a draft dodger who equates the children of undocumented workers with drug mules "with calves the size of cantaloupes" enviscerate the second in line to the Presidency?  How does someone who says, "The attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus!" bring such ill repute upon Joe Biden's understudy? 

Again, how does that happen?  How is it allowed to happen?  How is the mighty office of Speaker of the House rubbished in this way? Has anyone checked the final resting place of Tip O'Neill recently?  Does the earth look disturbed from him turning over?  Only in some alternative universe is this possible, but in the universe governed by tea party physics and occupied by the wizards of weird, the bizarre happens every single day.  The inexplicable occurs.  Madness pervades. 

And somehow John Boehner has found himself stranded in this place with nary a box of tissues with which to dry his ubiquitious tears.  Nobody is rushing to help him.  Many of his own stripe seem eager to hand him a shovel.  But there is a way out.  It's not too late.  He can yet pivot.  Though his power is greatly diminished, there remains a spark--faint but there. 

Put a clean CR bill on the House floor for an up or down vote.  President Obama has challenged him repeatedly to do so. 

In one bold maneuver--and maybe with a dose of political Viagra--he could turn the tables on the tea party and make himself look reasonable.  He could publicly denounce his tormentors for the fools and idiots that they are.  A totally cathartic moment awaits him.  Mainstream media would sing his praises--or at least hum a little bit.  His popularity would soar--or at least get off the ground somewhat, and no one would dare try to dethrone him because ultimately the tea party representatives who have hounded him lack courage, honor and brains to do so.  And besides, who seriously would want the job of being the warden of the tea party asylum?




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