Once again the party whose policies and politics have contributed more to running the country into the ground than any party since the founding of the country, is showing the Democrats how to play the game, how to wield power, how to play politics, get things done and stick to their principles even if their principles are anathema to the country.
John Boehner is 4 months into the Republican congressional majority in the House, a majority achieved because Democrats didn't have the guts to stand up to Obama's duplicity and spinelessness on the public option, financial reform and tax cuts for the wealthy and they paid the price.
Boehner has stated publicly that he wants to get spending cuts passed with Republican votes alone. When he was asked by reporters if he would try and put together a coalition with Democrats to pass legislation to keep the government from shutting down, Boehner said, "not very interested".
The BBC also reported that Boehner had said that "Republicans would not be forced into accepting options they did not want to endorse".
Contrast that with the capitulating and spine caving sell out by Barrack Obama to the small Republican minority on the country's most important legislation even though Obama had the biggest congressional majority of any president in 60 years. Contrast that with Obama's scrounging for one Republican vote on the public option when the Democrats didn't need Republican votes at all, and then, not getting it, throwing the policy under the bus along with hundreds of millions of Americans who wanted real healthcare reform. Contrast Boehner refusal to compromise on principles with Obama caving in to Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 5% of Americans, something Obama publicly stated since 2007 he would never do.
Republicans say they will not compromise or accept any options they don't endorse as a matter of policy. Obama caved in on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy then had the gall to accuse those Democrats who didn't want to go along of being "sanctimonious purists". And this is who the Democrats are going to support for four more years?
Its not all Obama's fault, of course. At any time the weak, non- leadership of the Democratic congress led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid could have rejected Obama's capitulation and passed what she and Reid knew was best for the country. Pelosi herself stated that the public option was the "centerpiece" of healthcare reform. But when Obama sold it out to healthcare lobbyists even though the Democrats had the votes in the House and senate to pass it with reconciliation, Pelosi and Reid folded their tents and their integrity and put a desire not to politically embarrass Obama ahead of what was best for the country. Had they stood up to Obama they would still be in the majority and none of the mess that is going on with the budget would be taking place.
The Democrats paid a deservedly heavy price for that last November. But incredibly, even after being led off a cliff by Pelosi and Reid, the Democrats in congress re-elected them as their leaders. It fits Einstein's definition of insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
And so what are Obama and the Democrats doing now? They are complaining that Republicans are refusing to compromise or cave in the way they did.
It's never too late to show some backbone, but if the Democrats couldn't show it with the biggest congressional majority in 60 years there is not a lot of hope they will show it now. They need new leadership and need a new collection of paid strategists and communicators who know how to frame an argument and a message and have at least some powers of persuasion. The Democrats have always had policy and ideas on their side. Just not enough backbone in leadership and probably the worst collection of political strategists and communicators in history.
As for Obama, he is missing the part of the male anatomy that James Carville pointed to, and had no real convictions, principles or integrity to begin with so there is nothing about Obama that is going to change. He is purely a politician and a gutless one at that with a 13 year political history of standing for nothing and fighting for nothing. Which is why Cornell West, the African American historian at Princeton recently said of Obama, " if you stand for nothing you fall for anything". Obama and the Democrats have fallen. Not only from power but from grace. Now it's a question of whether they will ever stand up.
NOTE: I just love when something happens that proves my point only hours after making it . On the floor of the U.S. senate at 6:32 p.m on Wed. April 6,. in addressing the budget impasse Harry Reid said, " On the budget cuts we agreed to meet the Republicans part of the way and they said no. Then we agreed to meet the Republicans half way and they said no. They we agreed to meet the Republicans more than half way and they said no. They we agreed to meet the Republicans all the way and they still said no."
That's giving 'em hell Harry.
2ND NOTE: A very telling WSJ/NBC poll has just been released. According to the poll 56% of Republicans say Republicans should stick to their guns on budget cuts and 38% say they should compromise. The same poll shows only 26% of Democrats say that Democrats should stick to their guns while 68% say Democrats should compromise. This is why Democrats ended up with a president with no convictons or principles and why the Democrats lost big in November. The old axiom is true -- people do get the government they deserve.
UPDATE: a shut down was averted when the House and senate agreed on a temporary continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down. The Democrats didnt capitulate on the Republican attempt to gut Planned Parenthood on idelologichal grounds not related to the budget and the agreement left Planned Parenthood funded. But Obama naturally did capitulate showing again his word is as a good as confederate money. Obama said only a few days ago that he would no longer accept a temporary extension to keep the government running unless there was a broader deal on the budget. There was no broader deal and Obama signed the temporary extension.
But while congressional Democrats refused to give away the whole store to the Republicans this time, it was clear that it was more a matter of political survival than backbone since the Democrats knew full well what would happen to them with their womens' constituency had they folded. As it is the Republicans got most of what they wanted and it remains to be seen how the Democratic leadership will handle the budget fight in the future. One thing they did learn -- they can say no to Republicans and hold their ground and the roof wont cave in.