Back in the day, when you spoke of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a vision of power would come to mind. History has seen powerful men occupy the position, third in line to the Presidency. Henry Clay, Joe Cannon, Sam Rayburn and Tip O’Neill come to mind as powerful men, who either held sway with their fellow representatives in championing legislation or were to be feared. Henry Clay was the Great Compromiser. Uncle Joe Cannon was feared and was a thorn in the side of Teddy Roosevelt. Cannon held two positions, speaker and chairman of the rules committee. Sam Rayburn was known for his integrity and how behind the scenes he shaped and helped to pass, the New Deal legislation. Tip O’Neill knew how to use the levers of power.
Here we are in 2014, and the Speaker of the House is John Boehner. What a difference between he and prior speakers. Weak is too timid a word to describe his lack of leadership. He is the Speaker! But yesterday, was an example of why he has no respect. In an unheard of occurrence, John Boehner allowed himself to be bullied by a Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.. Even a fellow Republican expressed his dismay at the brass of Senator Cruz.. Representative KIng of New York was not shy in his criticism of the Senator for trying to influence the House in the first place. But to be frank, Boehner allowed himself to be bullied and pulled a piece of legislation.
Speaker Boehner let the government close down. He let the debt ceiling extension hang in the balance. He is unable to keep his minority of Tea Party members from dictating to him the direction he should go in. Back in the day, they would have been given minor committee assignments for having caused the Speaker trouble. In some cases the Speaker might support another candidate in order to remove from office a person who would not follow the Speakers leadership. If you keep the speaker happy you just might get your choice of committee assignments.
Speaker John Boehner is the man partially responsible for being totally incompetent and allowing this session of Congress to be the biggest failure in history.
President Truman called his Congress the Do Nothing Congress. But they passed over 900 bills. This Congress could only pass a bit over 200 measures, most of which were people who needed confirmation. Very little legislation was passed that had any significance. If Truman called his the do nothing Congress, what should we call this group of obstructionist?
Maybe he should step down as Speaker. I would almost prefer someone who you would know where he stood, instead of saying one thing at the start of the week and then changing his mind because he can not get his caucus together. At least he will be remembered as a result of a joke at the Correspondence Dinner, when the comedian said that, “Orange is the new black.”