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Welcome, Madam Speaker

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Our congratulations to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on selection as Speaker du jour of the U.S. House of Representatives. And our thanks to the 52 Republicans who made it possible while cutting the legs off titular Speaker John Boehner. While he may retain the title, the power referred to in that nomenclature clearly belongs to the lady from California.

To me, it’s not a Republican or Democrat thing. It’s a who-can-govern issue. He can’t. She can. The Friday night edge-of-the-cliff-follies dealing with continued funding for the Department of Homeland Security could more aptly be titled “Night of the Long Knives” for Boehner and his political party of the perpetual Chinese fire drill. It was not Boehner’s first public humiliation. It won’t be his last. Bet the farm.

Apparently without giving marching – read voting – orders to her Democrat soldiers, the Minority leader sat on the sidelines, watched the Republican bloodletting as the first DHS bill was killed by GOP subversives, then called a quick news conference.

She announced she was “asking” Democrats in the House to get behind the second DHS bill because “national security is at stake and the issue is too important for partisan politics.” And that’s how it appeared in living rooms from coast to coast. A request based on national interest and common sense. Jolly good!

What it really was was gut politics at its best. And the guy getting the gut shot was Boehner. Without Pelosi and her Democrat soldiers, Boehner couldn’t do what he’d had at least three weeks to get done. DHS would close up shop in a couple of hours. He and his “leadership” team publically proved they (1) couldn’t accurately count the noses of their own troops, (2) couldn’t “whip” enough loyal troops to pass what had to pass, and (3) couldn’t avoid a DHS shutdown without votes from the Democrat caucus.

Pelosi quietly – and behind-the-scenes – did what Boehner and his minions couldn’t do in public. Or in private either, for that matter. Again, it’s not a matter of liking Pelosi or disliking Boehner. It’s two contestants in the ring. One who knows what to do there – the other without a clue – who stopped training too early for the big fight. She whipped him. Fair and square.

While the DHS funding bill was important, there’s an even larger matter to consider. Pelosi’s agenda – and that of the Democrat party – is immigration reform, tax reform, public works spending, voting rights protections and a half dozen more subjects of national importance. If you make a vertical list of those, then a second list of what the Republican crazies oppose, you’ll pretty much be able to draw a straight line from items in column “A” to items in column “B.”

The clown bus folk can scream, holler and pound their little fists on the well-carpeted House floor. But, if Boehner wants to survive with all the perks of being Speaker, he’s going to have to come to terms with the lady from California to save his own butt …. er …. bacon.

Then there’s a matter of some goofy GOP Brutus taking a procedural blade to Caesar Boehner’s backside. It’s called “Motion To Vacate.” In House rules, it takes priority over almost anything else and must be dealt with. It’s similar to calling a vote of “no confidence” with Boehner the target. If one of the crazies – Idaho’s Labrador comes to mind – thinks he’s got the votes from both parties to take the Speaker down, listen closely. The next House member to take a floor microphone may be on just such a mission.

Two other points also make this possible. One is Labrador and 24 others who’ve twice tried in caucus to take Mr. Tan out and failed. Second, the miscreants might figure they could live with anyone else for the next 20 months and – with gerrymandered voting district lines still in place – continue majority status in 2016 and elect a new Speaker – one more to their liking.

Politics is a blood sport. It’s not for the “faint-of-heart.” It’s got rules and it’s got “unwritten” rules. Those who survive best make sure they’ve committed both sets to memory. Republicans, at the moment, are saddled with a bunch of ideologues in Congress. They don’t know either set of rules and don’t give a damn. Which is why they can only muck things up but never achieve an outright victory for what they want. They’ve managed to shove Boehner to the edge of their flat earth – making him less effective than he could be with some smarter troops to deal with. But they can’t win.

They’ve also put Boehner in a box by weakening his effectiveness to the point he can’t achieve major goals without Democrats. Boehner’s political survival and prestige are now in the hands of Nancy Pelosi. She can’t do all the things she wants. But she can keep Boehner in tow. She can bargain.

The nut cases aren’t going to change. Ideologues don’t change. But Pelosi has demonstrated again and again she knows both sets of rules. Boehner’s no idiot. But he’s hobbled with a caucus he can’t control.

Politics is also a spectator sport. Make sure your popcorn’s popped and there’s lots of beer in the fridge. As Bette Davis famously said, “It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.”

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