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John Boehner Is Not Pining for the Fjords

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Honest to God, the goings-on in DC are going to drive the Comedy Channel out of business. Just when they think they’ve come up with a great new sketch, reality trumps them and blows them away. Either they’ll fold and go out of business, or they’ll make Jon Stewart president.

This past Thursday, the House voted down the latest version of the five-year farm bill, which includes not only subsidies and supports for those in the ag world, but also provides for the food stamp program and other food-related subsidies for the poor. Speaker John Boehner and his GOP leadership have been working for months to put together a bill, and when they brought it to the floor this past week, it failed. Spectacularly, as Dave Helling of the KC Star points out.

The bill’s crushing defeat — led by a coalition of conservative Republicans and Democrats — also suggests congressional dysfunction has reached a new apex, they said, a problem that threatens progress on immigration, the budget, employment and other issues.


The House bill was expected to cost $939 billion over 10 years. It included spending for crop insurance and other farm subsidies, as well as nutrition programs like food stamps.

The bill cut projected spending on food stamps by about $2 billion a year. That figure concerned some Democrats, but not enough to threaten the measure, House leadership believed.

In the final hours of this week’s debate, though, House Republicans approved an amendment that toughened work requirements for food stamp recipients. That convinced dozens of Democrats — including Cleaver — to abandon the bill.

At the same time, Republicans like Reps. Tim Huelskamp and Mike Pompeo of Kansas said the food stamp cuts didn’t go far enough. They also voted against the bill.

John Boehner may still be breathing. He may still have his name on the door of the office set aside for the Speaker of the House. But his speakership is dead.

GOP staffers on the hill may disagree, saying that this defeat is a problem the Democrats caused because they didn’t deliver on the votes they promised, but that’s a red herring. The Democratic votes disappeared because Boehner couldn’t keep his own ranks in line, and when they pushed things too far (as described above), the Dems threw up their hands and said “Enough!”

John Boehner, in words borrowed (and amended) from that sage observer of political life John Cleese, is an ex-Speaker:

Speaker Boehner is not pinin’ for the fjords. He’s passed on! This speaker is no more! He has ceased to be! He’s expired and gone to meet his maker! This is a late speaker. He’s a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If he hadn’t been nailed to the speaker’s desk, he’d be pushing up the daisies! He’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-SPEAKER!!

That pretty much says it.

And finally, it seems the Democrats have wised up. “Oh, if we just cave a little more to the Tea Partiers, then we won’t lose as badly down the road” is no way to negotiate, especially when dealing with folks who have no desire to negotiate in the first place.

Which is precisely Speaker Boehner’s problem. He can’t negotiate with the Democrats, because they realize he doesn’t have the power to make agreements any more. He can’t negotiate with his own caucus, because they believe negotiation is a sign of weakness (see Huelskamp and Pompeo above). When things that matter actually come to a vote, Boehner’s Ex-Speakership becomes clear for all to see. Boehner couldn’t deliver on the budget negotiations with the White House and the Senate. He couldn’t deliver on the farm bill. Again and again, Speaker Boehner is trapped by the nuttiest members of his own caucus, often led or encouraged by Boehner’s erstwhile #2, Eric Cantor.

Congress still has this ugly sequester mess. They still have no budget and a looming debt ceiling. People are still hoping for movement on immigration, still hoping to pass a farm bill, still looking to deal with student loan rates and still trying to agree on a thousand other things. But without a living, breathing Speaker of the House of Representatives, none of that is going to happen.

John Boehner is not resting. He’s not keeping his powder dry for the next battle. He’s not pining for the fjords. As Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, John Boehner is dead.

The only reason Speaker Boehner still uses the title “Speaker” is because no one else wants it.


h/t to the Official Monty Python YouTube channel for the immortal video posted above. At least I think I’ve got their permission to do this, given the fact that they provided the embed code themselves and they said this in their “about us” notes:

For 7 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube. Now the tables are turned. It’s time for us to take matters into our own hands.

We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we’ve figured a better way to get our own back: We’ve launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube.

No more of those crap quality videos you’ve been posting. We’re giving you the real thing – HQ videos delivered straight from our vault.

What’s more, we’re taking our most viewed clips and uploading brand new HQ versions. And what’s even more, we’re letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there!

But we want something in return.

None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

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