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Conason writes: "Observing the Congressional Republicans repeatedly stumble in and out of their caucus clown car, blowing loud kazoos and muttering angry threats, should be painful, embarrassing, and highly instructive to any American voter with the patience to watch."

House Speaker John Boehner. (photo: unknown)
House Speaker John Boehner. (photo: unknown)

GOP Clown Car Crashes, Again

By Joe Conason, The National Memo

03 January 12


bserving the Congressional Republicans repeatedly stumble in and out of their caucus clown car, blowing loud kazoos and muttering angry threats, should be painful, embarrassing, and highly instructive to any American voter with the patience to watch. When their latest performance concluded late Tuesday night with a 257 to 187 vote passing the stopgap fiscal deal negotiated by the Senate and the White House, an unavoidable question lingered: What is wrong with those people?

The simple explanation is that the House of Representatives has increasingly been dominated over the past two decades by a coterie of tantrum-prone extremists, who lack the probity and steadiness required for democratic self-government. Their diminished capacity is reflected in the low quality of leadership they have chosen during this long twilight, from Newt Gingrich, Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay to John Boehner and Eric Cantor, even as their politics have grown more and more extreme.

Under the stress of their incoherence, the Republican caucus is unable to escape one humiliating mess after another. The damage they routinely inflict on the country's economy and future is reaching incalculable levels - and is almost certain to grow worse when they again hold the debt ceiling hostage next month.

By the end of the current episode - which is only an interlude rather than a true resolution - the top Republicans in the House had split, with Boehner casting a rare vote in favor, and House Budget Committee chair and former vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI) voting yes, along with 84 fellow Republicans and almost all of the House Democrats, while House Majority Leader and would-be Speaker Eric Cantor (R-VA) voted no. On the floor, House Ways and Means chair Dave Camp (R-MI) tried to claim that this bill is "the largest tax cut in history," although he might have difficulty explaining why more than 150 Republicans voted against it.

The Republicans' incompetence in government is inextricably connected with their ideological extremism, as the latest events demonstrate. Hogtied by the craziness of the ultra-right Tea Party faction, the House GOP leadership cannot even cooperate with other Republicans in the Senate - who overwhelmingly voted for the "cliff" deal negotiated with Vice President Joe Biden - let alone conduct serious discussions with the White House.

Having refused to support the leadership's "Plan B" scheme to raise taxes only on households making $1 million or more annually - despite confident claims by Boehner and Cantor that they had counted the necessary votes - the Republican caucus made both themselves and their leaders look ridiculous. It was a dreadful right-wing plan, but still much too liberal for too many of them. Tacitly acknowledging that he could no longer manage his restless wingnuts, Boehner insisted that the Senate and White House should come up with an emergency measure on their own.

Yet when the Senate leadership, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, offered a bill negotiated with Vice President Joe Biden - just as Boehner had urged - the House Republicans descended into crisis. Their leaders couldn't endorse the bill, fearing that the GOP caucus crazies would defenestrate them. But they could hardly employ their usual partisan tactics to keep the bill off the House floor, after the Senate had passed it by a vote of 89-8, with only five Republican defections. They might have noticed as well their declining numbers in every public poll, with the latest Republican-leaning Rasmussen survey showing a Democratic lead in the generic congressional contest of 11 points and climbing.

Astonishingly, they nevertheless wasted several hours debating whether to amend the bill with new spending cuts and then send it back to the Senate, where leaders of both parties would have surely and justly rejected such tardy handiwork. Consistent only in their ineptitude, the House Republicans were reportedly unable to agree among themselves on exactly how to change the bill, in any case.

Finally, they folded - or at least their leaders did - and proclaimed that they were girding themselves for the battles to come over the budget and the debt ceiling, which have now been postponed for another month or so.

The deal itself is not a bad one, from the Democratic perspective, raising significant new revenues from the wealthiest taxpayers and excluding any "grand bargain" (or raw deal) to weaken Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. Its specific provisions are still far too generous to the highest-income taxpayers and will not, in the long run, raise enough revenue to sustain decent government, rebuild the nation's infrastructure, and prepare for the future.

The struggle over what government should do and how to pay for its functions continues, almost immediately. And perhaps soon the president and his party will explain, without hesitation, what this brief tumble over the "cliff" has shown us, and what we may hope they have finally learned: That there is no negotiating partner among the House Republicans, who must be defeated if progress is to be possible. your social media marketing partner


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+54 # Inland Jim 2013-01-03 12:07
"Observing the Congressional Republicans repeatedly stumble in and out of their caucus clown car, blowing loud kazoos and muttering angry threats, should be painful, embarrassing, and highly instructive to any American voter with the patience to watch." How about: Also amusing.
+38 # BradFromSalem 2013-01-03 12:54
What is painful to watch is the millions of Americans that presume that the idiocy of the Republicans is the same idiocy of the Democrats. Democrats, sadly are in some ways worse, because they understand how idiotic they are forced to act. Republicans, on the other hand, don't know and don't care.

Bob Dylan said it best:
"Idiot wind blowing through the buttons of our coats
Blowing through the letters that we wrote
Idiot wind blowing through the dust upon our shelves
We're idiots babe
It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves."

Sorry, Inland Jim, it really ain't amusing but since I am as much an idiot as anyone else, I laugh too.
+26 # mike/ 2013-01-03 12:38
i was wondering if they needed a bigger car or if, since the preznitial contenders were no longer in it, there was room now.

actually, now that i think about it - both!

oh, and they just voted Bo(eh)ner to be the driver again, even with Cantor, McCarthy et.alia as backseat drivers; i suppose no one else wanted to drive...
+26 # hd70642 2013-01-03 12:41
Well when a person believes in idealism but utterly rejects realism you get folks who get utterly astonished when they can not place a round peg in a square hole . I once had a toy mail box whose objective was to place different shaped blocks in to the right hole I guess that would throw the current reactionary regressive repubilcan't's for a loop that rivals the most daring and skilled barn storming act or the most daring roller coaster ride ever conceived of
+2 # kelly 2013-01-04 14:02
Are they ideals anymore or fanatical ravings of those too caught up in extremist rhetoric? Even Grover Norquist, whom I would usually consider the least willing to compromise, gave these guys the green light and they still chose to go against the grain. Then some of them wonder why we accuse them of being extremist and not representing their constituents as much as special interests.
+19 # Old Man 2013-01-03 12:50
John Boner is a creacher that lives in a different world.....I wonder where that is?
+32 # WallStWallFlowerGirl 2013-01-03 13:09
In order to learn from something, you have to accept being wrong; Republican whores can't do that or their pimps, behemoth corporations full of avarice, will cut-off their, uh-hem, allowance.

When "public servants" stop doing the work of the people, instead for whomever rewards the most money- they should be ousted w/all cushy pensions & perky perks stripped. If this were so & the sheeple stopped handing out shots of Kool-Aid during FAUX news hour, perched at the edge of the "fiscal cliff," we could actually have a working government.

Yet America seems too willing to remain the carcass that vulture capitalists feed off of. Only banding together as majority consumers to boycott as much as humanly possible, will change come about. From Wal-Mart shelves stocked w/Chinese labor to supermarket corn injected w/hormones (to get sick & go to Big Pharma later)- our plastic toys & plastic food are made to hypnotize a nation to stay stupid. Wall St is only as powerful as we are ignorant; they need us to spend our money their way because the bigger the fool, the bigger the bonus.

So as long as citizen consumer wants to keep up w/the Joneses, w/gas-guzzling trucks, iToys & over-sized plasma boxes to watch over-sized Reality TV, I'm less inclined to drink from a glass that's half full. Yet Rmoney has checked into a hotel instead of the White House & Insanity Hannity is losing viewers... so hope does spring eternal.
+56 # chrisconnolly 2013-01-03 13:17
What are the republican ideals anyway? To destroy democracy? To turn their christian backs on the sick, the poor, and the oppressed? To deny the devastating effects of hurricanes? To burden the not rich with all the bills for welfare for the rich? How do these republicans justify arming teachers with guns but not with collective bargaining power? What are their ideals that they go down in flames for? Or am I using the term 'ideals' too loosely?
+14 # susienoodle 2013-01-03 19:17
you raise a very good question. What boggles my mind is that 47% of Americans vote for them. Are they all brainwashed Faux Noise viewers? My only hope is subsequent generations move this country forward, but who has 20+ years to wait?!!!
+38 # Buddha 2013-01-03 13:18
The issue is that the crazy Far Right TP exists because the voters who elected them have also gone off the deep end. I am beginning to wish Obama granted them their wish when they signed their secession petitions. We should let the wealthy Blue States, who have been subsidizing these Red States for decades, go their own way while us Blue States reform and fix all the damage that their idiocy has done to our collective economies.
+14 # Hirspray 2013-01-03 14:46
That is a good point. Blue states should now get to wrk fixing their election laws. Start with citizens redistricting, campaign financing reform, initiative and referendum reform voting improvements and ranked choice voting. Clean up those areas and when the redstaters kick out theirr tea baggers..start there.
+1 # curmudgeon 2013-01-03 13:18
The G.O.P. and the Demogocats and Obama did what they were paid to do.

The issue was how do we reward and encourage corporate socialsim..

by giving $80 Billion dollar tax-writeoffs to Goldman-Sachs, Disney, Nascar, etc.

THAT is what they were paid to do and they did it...hidden by the seemingly scripted public posturing. One could even hazard that a deal was cut some time ago and the rest was grandstanding.

I could be wrong
+8 # kalpal 2013-01-03 14:34
Could be??? Could the sun be seen to be appearing somewhere in the east tomorrow morning? I say its possible and am willing to be a whole dollar on the matter.
0 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-01-03 18:39
Curmudgeon hit it on the head. The whole scene in the District of Criminals is about rewarding and encouraging corporate socialism. This fiscal cliff disaster is a very clear indication of what is really going on. They managed to add 4 TRILLION (according to the Congressional budget office) to the debt!! Wow!! That means a hell of a lot of cutting coming down the pike. They raised the taxes a bit on the top 0.7 of the plutocrats, while taking a thousand a year away from the working people with an increase in the Social Security payments for benefits that will soon be cut---but the working people will pay more anyway. Ain't it grand? Gonna be even harder to figure out which of the corporate lackeys in the worser. Seems like an even tie to me. Both REALLY evil.
+11 # reiverpacific 2013-01-03 13:22
Another one from Bob Dylan.
"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles!"
+22 # MainStreetMentor 2013-01-03 13:23
This repeatedly displayed fiasco would be amusing if many of the repetitious results didn’t damage the American People so badly. These representatives ’ FIRST priority has become: To vote only with/for their political party’s agenda, not the well-being of our Country nor its’ citizens - Rendering them NOT our “representative s”, but merely party sycophant lackeys. That’s a true statement, and we need to remember it every time there is an election: Vote OUT the miscreant, party-loyal incumbents, regardless of party affiliation, and replace them with NON-lawyer candidates.
+24 # wrknight 2013-01-03 13:34
Unfortunately, all this reflects poorly on the voters that put these clowns in office.
+38 # Art947 2013-01-03 13:41
There are a number of things that we must do going forward.

1. Start to call out the "crazies" on the Republican far-right by name. The stupidity (treasonous behavior) of these individuals must be publicized so that their constituents begin to know how they are attempting to destroy America.

2. We must identify individuals from the districts of these crazies who can provide an alternative point of view and then we must give them the support to get them elected to office!

I know the "war" may take some time to win, however, if we don't begin the battle plan now, then there is no hope for a better future.
+9 # NAVYVET 2013-01-03 21:27
Art947: You're right on the money. And what we need to be planning for is an inclusive new Citizens' Party--not Demo-publican or Green, since all three have been on the take for decades. Not anarchist like the so-called "Libertarians" (basically suckers for the super-rich or bewildered wannabe he-men) not their counterparts on the left, the most extreme Occupiers. I respect the goals of Occupy and have worked with them--but real change has got to be through elections, starting at the grassroots local level. Revolutions are desired only by the naive who know no history. Unfortunately they usually bring nothing but bloodshed and a dictator.
-33 # HowardMH 2013-01-03 13:42
If the Caver-In-Chief had some back bone and real leadership qualities it wouldn’t make any difference that he was Black. He is a total Wimp and wimps get walked all over by those with the guts to hold out for their convictions. When McConnell realized Reid was not going to cave in for what the Publicans wanted so they would not be blamed for the Total Disaster this country is now in, he called for Biden. Let’s see here – Biden works for the Caver-In-Chief, or if you prefer Obama the Wimp, who can’t negotiate his way out of a wet paper bag, so McConnell gets to save face. If you think this was a bad deal for the Dumb Dum’s wait about three months. The Dumb Dum’s have already played their ace and lost! The Bushie tax cuts that should have never, never, never been allowed to happen are now for all practical purposes permanent, and the Publicans got 98.5% of everything they wanted.
Just in case you need an example in math – hope this is comprehendible enough for the millions that do not even understand what a Trillion is. Boy walks into Ice Cream store, and orders a 3 scoop ice cream cone. Caver-In-Chief gives him the cone and says that will be $1.60 and the boy says no way I will pay 80 cents, so Caver-In-Chief says okkkkkkkkk 60 cents it is. Now Caver-In-Chief needs to get at least $1.10 for that ice cream cone to just pay the bills and that is why the US is going to be just like Greece in a very short time.
+24 # Cassandra2012 2013-01-03 14:13
I believe the definition of a fanatic is one who has only one thing to say, says it over and over again, and cannot hear ANYONE else over his repetitious din ?!
+16 # coach777b 2013-01-03 19:04
Your attempts to belittle and insult the President renders your argument useless. State your case, lose the insults and you might get some attention.
+13 # MrKite 2013-01-03 13:43
Much of it, I believe, is tied to willfull ignorance.
+7 # NAVYVET 2013-01-03 21:30
Years ago, Mr Kite, I decided that the Seven Deadly Sins could all be wrapped up under two really disastrous sins: (1) willful ignorance, and (2) exploitation--o f anyone or anything.
+33 # agnamike 2013-01-03 13:49
Unless the setting of congressional districts is taken out of the hands of partison interests the partisan extremists will continue to dominate the house.
+5 # AndreM5 2013-01-03 14:48
Unfortunately, there really are no "non-partisan" interests and therefore no uncorruptible interests that could do the districting job. The courts? Right.

Maybe the Knitting Bee in Des Moines. (Not an aspersion cuz I like Des Moines.)
+16 # Hirspray 2013-01-03 14:52
Yep. California just redistricted using a citizen commission. It was a great step forward. The politicians and media hated it. Now the media and the public and one party is singing its praises.
+8 # coach777b 2013-01-03 19:06
Voters have to demand FAIR redistributing, free of input from politicians. Prime example, Michelle Bachman is back. Batshit crazy but in a "safe" district.
+9 # seakat 2013-01-03 19:32
Instead of embracing the Tea Party crazies, maybe the GOP should make them form their own party.

I didn't have a lot of respect for the GOP before they were invaded by the Tea Party, I have much less respect now.
+10 # Tzul el Chapin 2013-01-03 21:15
One can only wonder if the entire Republican House caucus is cmade up of sleeper agents put in place by the Soviet Union to wreak havoc on the USA. Perhaps the Republicans are secret revolutionaries , tying to goad the poor and middle class into overthrowing the government. Stalin must be smiling from his place in hell. Certainly the Taliban and Al Qaeda are smiling. The tea party and the Republicans are doing damage to the country that our enemies couldn’t imagine and hope for in their wildest dreams. The Republicans would be comical if their actions didn’t have such tragic consequences.
+3 # cafetomo 2013-01-03 22:39
Never a good sign, being more sworn at, than in.
+7 # cordleycoit 2013-01-04 03:16
All winter long the rethugs think the can play the game of "block that kick" over and over. Why pay Congress men to do nothing over and over. Maybe just maybe the public will get that this bunch of losers in the House have to be made extinct. There's a country on the ropes right now. The Repubs find the box they have built is a coffin for their party.
+6 # Regina 2013-01-04 10:39
That also goes for making the same stupid play over and over -- like 33 repetitious "acts" to repeal Obamacare.
+2 # Third_stone 2013-01-05 16:33
The republicans have been hired to keep things the way the very rich want them. It is not that they don't understand. It is that their values are completely different from the nation's.
+1 # afrizunk 2013-01-06 13:09
The Tea Party is a CULT, not a faction.

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