This segment from The Rachel Maddow Show Monday night was illuminating. If you’re a Democrat you know who to blame when things go wrong — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For good or for bad, the buck often stops with them. Lord knows I find Harry Reid especially maddening. But this recent vote that doomed the bailout was an eye-opener about who “the man” in the Republican Party.
It’s not John McCain, whose campaign suspension to get to “work” in Washington, D.C. resolved nothing. Or Rep. John Boehner, the minority leader in the House who took his coalition to the floor on a prayer that they had the votes only to find they did not. And it’s definitely not President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney who could no longer Billy Goat Gruff the freepers into submission.
Politico.com is running a host of stories on what a death knell this could be for McCain, Boehner and the progressively lamer than lame duck presidency of George W. Bush.
Boehner’s story was actually sad to me. While I typically abhor the man, I even moreso hated how the man before him, Texan Tom DeLay. DeLay bullied, lied, emasculated, double-crossed, threatened and beat down any Republican who dared to air a different opinion. Boehner retired the wrath of The Hammer, but his reluctance to be a blood-thirsty, crooked orge didn’t help him in this debacle.
From the beginning, Boehner has let his members do what they want. He campaigned for the top job by telling Republicans he would not lean on them as his predecessor, former Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, was wont to do.
But that long leash has been problematic at times — never, though, like it was on Monday.
Democrats were quick to dance on Boehner’s grave on Monday — even though some of the Republicans who could someday replace him might be less gracious in negotiations than he has been.
“I guess the Republican leadership is so weak John Boehner couldn’t deliver 50 percent of the votes,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.) told a scrum of reporters shortly after the vote. “I thought these were big boys.”
It’s understandable to be frustrated with Pelosi, who despite delivering two-thirds of her contingency couldn’t sign on some of members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus. But she only promised half on a bill proposed by a Republican president and individuals appointed through a Republican administration. To get two-thirds of Democrats to even touch something with eau de toilette de Bush on it is an accomplishment in itself. But to have Republicans balk on their once infallible leader who is still popular amongst their constituents (if you believe the polls) says something profound.
And think of McCain, the man who wants to succeed Bush. He bet the most on this gamble and lost. Now he’s in the midst of digging himself out of a potential political grave, declaring he will not be undone by his own doing.
Reluctant Republicans ignored Sen. John McCain, undermining the Republican presidential nominee’s efforts to cast himself as a problem-solving legislative leader … (I)t was the House Republicans, whose support McCain had returned to Washington to seek, who drove a stake through the bill’s heart: Two-thirds of the Republicans voted against the bill; nearly two-thirds of the Democrats voted for it.
The failure to pass the measure, and the commensurate historic drop in stock prices around the world, overshadowed the presidential campaign, as it has for a week, and swamped McCain’s attempts to turn the conversation toward a more general argument about taxes and spending. The election remains squarely situated on the economy, turf on which polls suggest McCain is far less trusted than Obama.
Now McCain wants to call the publicly unpopular “bailout” of Wall Street a “rescue,” but I don’t think nomenclature is the problem. From day one, the administration has been reluctant to take this crisis seriously or even admit there is a crisis. Then, on a dime, they turn from “there’s nothing to see here, ma’am” to “EVERYBODY PANIC!” It’s only natural people would be skeptical, wondering what was the rush. The Patriot Act was rushed. The war in Iraq was rushed. Americans have routinely been told to panic then rush towards the benevolent leader’s guidance and to never doubt him or his followers.
Now even the once “true believers” are looking twice. Of course the public is balking.
Other than Bush’s pathetic doom and gloom prime time speech, no one has explained anything. No one understands the magnitude of the crisis or how acting (or not acting) would affect the average voter. I’m a regular follower of politics and I don’t understand. I’ve read all sorts of materials and I’m not sure what’s the right thing to do. But I do know my votes and my tax dollars are based in my reluctant faith on Congress, the White House and the federal government to catch a clue and find a way to fix this thing other than picking the second largest sum they could guess and asking the taxpayers to fund it (via China).
If Bush, McCain and Boehner can’t convince their own party of the severity how can they convince a “fool me once, fool me twice” public?