Saturday, October 02, 2010

"Do As I Say, Not As I Did... or Am Doing."

David Broder has penned a love letter to John Boehner who, with the potential of becoming majority leader, is giving lip service to cooperation across the aisle. Broder praises Boehner's "honesty" for not serving up the bald-faced lie that the problem is new, or that his party acted responsibly when it previously held a majority. But really, what are we supposed to make of the sudden embrace of bipartisanship by a chronically dishonest and hyperpartisan politician like Boehner?
I'd like to see Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leaders take Boehner up on the challenge he has raised, not try to demean it. He said, for example, that rather than stifling debate through the manipulation of rules, "we should open things up and let the battle of ideas help break down the scar tissue between the parties. . . . Let's let legislators legislate again."
The thing is, why do we need to wait? What is stopping Boehner from immediately translating his words into action, apologizing for his obstructionism, the belligerence of his fellow Members of Congress, and his chronic misrepresentation of the majority's legislative goals and accomplishments? It's easy to praise Boehner for, in effect, arguing that the opposition party should roll over and play dead if his party wins - but why not call him to account for his own actions? Why not demand to know if he will live up to his words starting today, or if his party doesn't gain a majority in the House? Because even Broder has to know the answer to those questions....
When large majorities of the nation's voters voice disdain and distrust for a Congress that is supposed to represent them in writing the laws, it is not just a problem for one party or the other. It is a threat to our system of government.
Or perhaps the problem is that the public is treated to "analysis" from the likes of Broder who focuses on the horse race, not on substance, criticizes legislation not on its substance but based upon how many members of the opposition party defected to support a particular bill, and implicitly defines "bipartisanship" as "Democrats, whether in the majority or minority, making one-sided concessions to Republicans."

Update: Bob Herbert reminds us of the reality of John Boehner.

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