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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Leadership failure

Lots of fingers are being pointed, but only one man is responsible for the government shutdown: John Boehner.

The House Speaker has consistently and repeatedly put politics and party above the greater good as he has catered to a rump faction of his own party.

And despite his pious protests of being ready and willing to compromise, he has failed to do the one thing which could end the stalemate in the House caused by the extremists on the right.

The Hastert Rule is a little known piece of legislative roadblocking invented by Boehner predecessor Dennis Hastert. It dictates that nothing can go before the House for a vote unless it has the support of a majority of Republicans.

By its very nature it prevents negotiation and compromise and places party interest before national interest.

If Boehner were serious about being a leader -- and not worried about keeping his job in the face of the diehard obstructionism of the Tea Party extremists -- he could have brought to the floor a "clean bill" to keep the government open.

Instead, he has foisted more than 40 votes to repeal or defund ObamaCare before the chamber, surely a record if for no other reason than most sane "leaders" know when to move on.

But Boehner's fear is personal:
"... he also knows that if he gives in and/or is perceived by cast-iron conservatives as giving in, his speakership is all but over."
The fixation on a law already passed by the House and Senate, upheld by the Supreme Court and implicitly approved by the American people who reelected Barack Obama is nothing short of irrational. And it is a direct result of Boehner's quest for job security.

So when you hear the Republican "leader" of one of two chambers of one branch of government declare that he is not responsible for the current gridlock that threatens the nation's fragile recovery, don't believe him.

If, on the other hand, he dumps the Hastert Rule, sends his children into a corner for a timeout and works with Democrats to resolve the shutdown and impending debt ceiling vote, then he become credible.

I'm not holding my breath.

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