Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Johnny, we hardly know you

Weepy Irish drinker Speaker John Boehner grew up in one of those petit-bourgeois Catholic households, dozen kids, no doubt around the time he was in high school a photo of our martyred John F. Kennedy over the mantelpiece next to John XXIII:
“Growing up, we were probably Kennedy Catholics because we were a strong devout Catholic family,” said Bob Boehner, the congressman’s older brother, who like all his siblings eventually switched party allegiance. “But the first time you get a real job and get your paycheck, you look down and you wonder, where’s the rest of your money, and they explain to you that that’s the tax you have to pay to the government, you start thinking more and more about becoming a Republican.”
Of course some of it you get back in the refund of the following summer, and a great deal more you get back when you turn 65, and you can enjoy more of it when you use
roads and bridges and schools and such and don't get invaded by foreign armies, and according to Abraham Lincoln the government is us: of, by, and for the people. So whoever "they" were doing the explaining, they weren't doing a very good job. But the Kennedy cult wasn't ideology anyway, it was about ideals, and being young and brave and just as good as the pinched-mouth WASPs in the country club.

We loved Kennedy in my half-Jewish liberal household too, if without the mantelpiece picture;  and everybody owned a copy of the dead president's great book, Profiles in Courage, about a pantheon of American legislators who did the right thing even if it was going to cost them their political careers. I wonder if Speaker Boehner ever thinks about that, as he maneuvers like an addict with the cops at the door to save a job he's incapable of doing properly and can't possibly be enjoying, even if he has to flush the people's government, that's us, down the toilet to do it.

No wonder he's drinking and weeping.


Boehner has now been caught trying to do something moderately decent, namely trying to preserve normal access to health insurance for congressional staff against the Vitter crusade. Of course he's been trying to keep it secret: in the Republican world, being unable to exercise any authority over the team you are captaining isn't a sign of weakness, but taking care of your employees is.

Jonathan Chait has taken up my (perpetually ignored) idea for a centrist coup against the Speaker; only his candidates for the job don't include my beloved Hal Rogers, and do include the despicable terrorist-loving (as long as the terrorists are Catholics) Peter King. Don't know if that makes the improbable any more likely to happen, but I imagine not.

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