Erstwhile Republican leaders in U.S. House get new titles
Dana Milbank NAILS IT:
As House Republican backbenchers hurtle toward a government shutdown and a default on the national debt, their leaders remain in charge in title only.
Perhaps some changes in job descriptions are in order.
Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) will now be Spokesman Boehner, for he serves only as a mouthpiece for the desires of House conservatives.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) will henceforth be Majority Follower Cantor.
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) will become simply Whipped McCarthy, presiding over a staff of whipped deputies.
These three members of the GOP followership surrendered without much of a fight Wednesday morning at a meeting of House Republicans in the Capitol basement. After rank-and-file members shot down their plan to avoid a shutdown, the followers announced to the media a new plan: Not only would they refuse to fund the government beyond Sept. 30 unless President Obama agrees to abolish Obamacare — the signature achievement of his presidency — but they would allow the government to default on its debt in October if Obama does not meet their demands on taxes, energy policy and the health-care law.
“We aim to put a stop to Obamacare,” Majority Follower Cantor announced.
Added Whipped McCarthy, “I have not watched our conference be so united as we walk into this battle.”
They’re “united,” all right — but only in the sense that the leaders, about to be trampled by their own lines, picked up batons and pretended they were leading a parade.
CNN’s Dana Bash reminded Spokesman Boehner that “it’s no secret that you did not want to attach defunding Obamacare to this spending bill. I know it’s not been easy to be speaker over this caucus, but at this point, have you kind of lost control over the caucus?”
Spokesman Boehner did not deny the premise. “Listen, we’ve got a lot of divergent opinions in the caucus, and the key to any leadership job is to listen,” he said. “We listened to our colleagues over the course of the last week. We have a plan that they’re happy with.”
He said he was employing the “management model” of Speaker Newt Gingrich, a formula Spokesman Boehner described as “listen, learn, help and lead.”
It’s not clear why the GOP followership would be imitating the leadership of Gingrich, who presided over the 1990s shutdown debacle, or why Spokesman Boehner hasn’t been doing the “lead” part of Gingrich’s formula. But this shall remain unknown, because a followership aide called out “last question” just 90 seconds into the Q&A.