He's a pathetic figure, a man who is blind and also cannot count. And now he's getting scared.
Pathetic as he is, yet he controls one-third of our government and virtually all of its funding. On his own he has shut down the government of the most important country in the world by not exerting his power to stop the shutdown. On his own he could end the shutdown in a few minutes. Further - and even more frightening - on his own he can put the nation into default on October 17 by failing to act to get the debt ceiling raised. Because this default would virtually destroy the world's economy, he is the world's most powerful man, with a weapon at his disposal as powerful as a nuclear arsenal. And, like I said, he's scared. He knows who will get the blame.
This blind leader who has lost all his fingers and cannot count is, of course, John Boehner, Speaker of the House, who seems also to have lost the ability to think or to remember. On the surface it even looks likes he's lost his mind. But don't be fooled.
Yesterday he claimed on a Sunday talk show that there are not enough Republican votes in the House to join with the Democrats and pass a budget bill that will reopen the government without extorting holes in Obamacare. He says the same regarding a vote to raise the debt ceiling and thus avoid the default that would be financial armageddon for the world.
That's nuts. Is Boehner nuts?
Do the counting. The Democrats are only 17 votes shy of a majority in the House. There are a at least that number of Republican representatives wondering about next year's election or - we have to believe - worrying about the future of this country and the economy of the world. Thus no one can convince me that there are not 17 Republicans willing to end the shutdown even without extracting a big hole in Obamacare. There are certainly that many, and maybe a couple dozen more, who know Obama won't give up the major health care law which was probably his main reason for running for president. As a child, he had seen his mother arguing on the phone with an insurance company as she lay dying of cancer. You really think he's going to turn his back on that and let Obamacare be destroyed?
Do you really believe there aren't at least 17 Republicans who recognize Obama is not going to give in to the extortionary demands of the Tea Party Republicans? Who don't recognize that the GOP is currently on a suicide mission and could lose control of the House next year because of public disgust with their nonsense?
Rep. Peter King, Republican of New York, all but calls Boehner a liar: "I'm positive that a clean CR (the budget bill) would pass," he said Sunday. If Peter King says he's "positive" about such a matter in the context of defying his party leader, you can bet the farm that he is indeed positive. And at the price of a very bad pun, let me note that King is an old Congressional hand who still has his fingers to count on even if Boehmer doesn't. King says the votes are there, thus they are there.
Obama also knows Boehner is dissembling. Today he challenged Boehner to put the budget to a vote, saying that he is convinced the Republican votes are there. Obama is a poker player of repute. (Remember how he just played Putin and Assad?) He's "calling" Boehner because he knows Boehner is just bluffing.
Please note also that Speaker Boehner changed the focus on Sunday of what he is seemingly concerned about. He's gone from pretending to be ideological in this matter and is now saying that he is stuck where he is because of logistics. "It's not my fault! I don't have the votes!"
It may be that Boehner has thus found a way out of being single-handedly responsible for denying us our government and subsequently destroying the world economy. Maybe he is saying something so patently untrue as a signal to those GOP who would vote for the measure. Is he cueing them to step up and join King in identifying themselves and making a show of "assuring" the Speaker that the votes he needs are there? It's a charade, of course, that he doesn't already know who they are. But if it's a cover that gets him out of the corner, that's okay.
This scramble on his part to say "it isn't going to be my fault" comes now as commentators are beginning to say what I said here almost three weeks ago. (See "GOP To Launch Another 9/11?") Today's NY Times front page speaks of worldwide economic collapse following a USA default. Yeah? And check our Maureen Dowd's hysteria today. Hey, where you Times guys been?
Whatever works, John. Just get it done before October 17.
And in what way is Boehner blind, you ask? He and his TP cohort didn't read the funding provisions of Obamacare. Shutting down the government could not stop the funding flow to the health care act, as at least some of them seemingly thought. They simply didn't know what they were doing. But more of that next time. Just let it be said that one would expect those who propose to make laws have the good sense and ability to read the ones that already exist. Including the one that they are obsessed with.