With a self- described "sad and heavy heart," Boehner stood at the microphone sounding more like a scornful and defeated King Lear than the sane spokesman for the loyal opposition. "Shame on you!" he cried out at his Democratic colleagues, accusing them of disgraceful indifference to American values. There was more slander from his lips, but for some reason I could not feel a tad sorry for this graceless, mean-spirited pol from Southwestern Ohio, no matter his heavy-hearted sadness. The GOP must now find a way to live with him.
For more than a year, he has ridden the wave of the Tea Party's fashionable outrages on the political Right, to say and do weird things that hardly added any depth to the debate on Capitol Hill. He, like his allies, often complained that the GOP had no say in the reform bill's language although it had been pointed out more than once that the Administration's measure included 40 Republican amendments - so many, in fact that progressive Democrats started to label it a Republican bill. The cries of socialism were hollow from the outset, even those of the poor misguided souls who wanted the government to stay out of Medicare.
It's been an awful year for these losers. As late as Sunday evening, an unidentified congressman with a "southern sounding voice," shouted "baby killer" at Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak. This was the same Bart Stupak who threatened to kill the bill unless Obama accepted the anti-abortion group's terms. My head began to hurt even more.
On Saturday, Sarah Palin allowed that the bill would fail, proving once again that Obama lacked executive experience (read: the Alaska governor's office) to get anything done. "He's over his head," she chirped, tiresomely so. The Rep. Michele Bachmann added to the illogic among the rightwing desperados by whimpering that Stupak had broken her heart; it would require more time than I'm willing to take to figure that out. And wasn't it that Republican senator from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn, a physician by trade who warned that everybody would die sooner if the bill passed ?
So the broken-hearts club will have to wait for another day to write the history. That could take some time.
David Frum, the former speechwriter for President Bush, threw in the towel for his party last night, insisting that "conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s." From the beginning, he argued, the Republican forces on Capitol Hill had decided to stonewall every move by the President - "no negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama's Waterloo - just as health care was Clinton's in 1994. Only the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53 pct. of the vote, not Clinton's 42 pct. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.
"This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none."
You'd think that somebody among the insiders in Boehner's classroom would have thought of that months ago.