Tag Archives: Boehner

Sound of the Trump-et

I was reading Frank Rich’s analysis of the Trump phenomenon at New York Magazine, when I heard that John Boehner would resign .

Reading Rich with Boehner’s resignation in mind just served to underscore the travesty that is today’s American political landscape.

According to Rich, Trump’s “passport to political stardom” has been “his uncanny resemblance to a provocative fictional comic archetype.” His character

 is a direct descendant of Twain’s 19th-century confidence men: the unhinged charlatan who decides to blow up the system by running for office — often the presidency — on a platform of outrageous pronouncements and boorish behavior. Trump has taken that role, the antithesis of the idealist politicians enshrined by Frank Capra and Aaron Sorkin, and run with it. He bestrides our current political landscape like the reincarnation not of Joe McCarthy (that would be Ted Cruz) but of Jay Billington Bulworth….

In résumé and beliefs, Trump is even closer to the insurgent candidate played by Tim Robbins and reviled as “a crypto-fascist clown” in the mockumentary Bob Roberts (1992) — a self-congratulatory right-wing Wall Street success story, beauty-pageant aficionado, and folksinging star whose emblematic song is titled “Retake America.” Give Trump time, and we may yet find him quoting the accidental president played by Chris Rock in Head of State (2003): “If America was a woman, she would be a big-tittied woman. Everybody loves a big-tittied woman!”

Rich points out that Trump embarrasses the GOP by saying in public what “real” Republicans keep private.

Republican potentates can’t fight back against him because the party’s base has his back. He’s ensnared the GOP Establishment in a classic Catch-22: It wants Trump voters — it can’t win elections without them — but doesn’t want Trump calling attention to what those voters actually believe.

 Rich’s devastating analysis of the Trump phenomenon, together with John Boehner’s resignation (to the barely veiled glee of the party’s Neanderthal wing) confirm the GOP’s descent into know-nothingness and farce– and its utter inability to govern.

We may be entering an “End Times” rather different from the one anticipated by the GOP’s fundamentalist base. The question is whether the “Trump-et” is sounding for a complete melt-down and disintegration of the once Grand Old Party, or the beginning of a difficult but necessary climb back to something approaching sanity.


Cheney, Putin and Bibi

I was pondering a post about Netanyahu’s speech and its rapturous reception by the chickenhawks in Congress, but Fred Kaplan at Slate beat me to it:

Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress on Tuesday was a disturbing spectacle: shallow, evasive, short on logic, and long on cynicism.

The Israeli prime minister pretended to criticize the specific deal that the United States and five other nations are currently negotiating with Iran, but it’s clear from his words that he opposes any deal that falls short of Iran’s total disarmament and regime change. He pretended merely to push for a “better deal,” but he actually was agitating for war….

It’s worth noting, for now, that Netanyahu has been consistently wrong on this whole issue. He denounced the interim accord, signed a year ago, as a fraud that wildly favored the Iranians and that the Iranians would soon violate anyway; in fact, it’s been remarkably effective at freezing Iran’s nuclear activities, while freeing up a small fraction of its sanctioned funds. For the past 15 years, he’s been warning that Iran could or would go nuclear in the next year—and yet, here he still stands, in a Middle East where the only nation with nuclear weapons is his own.

I agree with Kaplan–and with the sober analysts (including, importantly, military leaders in Israel) who have warned that this Bibi/Boehner bit of political theater not only undermines the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Israel, but misrepresents the threat posed by Iran.

But what Kaplan and others haven’t addressed is even more disturbing: the Republican worldview–prominently on display during Bibi’s speech–that celebrates impetuous saber-rattling, prefers armchair “warriors” (let’s you and him fight) to thoughtful diplomats, and approaches all potential conflicts through a lens with only two categories: good guys or “evil doers.” It’s a worldview that valorizes strongmen like Putin, war criminals like Cheney and  shallow, self-righteous “leaders” like Netanyahu.

It’s a worldview that prefers the simplicity of the bumper-sticker to the messy complexity of the real world. It’s childish– and it’s incredibly dangerous.


When Partisanship Trumps Patriotism

When even Fox News anchors accuse John Boehner of a “major breach” of U.S. foreign policy, you can safely assume that Boehner has taken a giant step too far.

Both Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith have joined other media commentators and harshly criticized both Boehner and Netanyahu for making secret plans to have the Israeli Prime Minister address Congress—to make a speech critical of the Administration’s Iran policies.

Long-standing rules of protocol for foreign visits require White House involvement and sign-off. In this case, the White House was not only bypassed, but as several media sources noted, the entire Administration was intentionally kept in the dark.

In a major departure from what used to be considered patriotic behavior, Boehner and the GOP have invited a foreign leader to use the floor of Congress to bash an American President.

The policies involved are irrelevant. Millions of Americans were deeply opposed to George W. Bush’s foreign policy decisions. If Democrats had invited a foreign leader to Congress, without letting the White House know, to deliver an address critical of Bush’s policies, Republicans—and most patriotic Americans, including Democrats—would justifiably have found that conduct close to traitorous.

It used to be a given that partisan politics stopped at the water’s edge; that in foreign affairs, we were all Americans. Our policy disputes, no matter how bitter, were rightly seen to be internal arguments. Until now, the behavior Boehner has exhibited would have been unthinkable—on both sides of the aisle.

I’m 73 years old, and I’ve followed politics closely for over fifty of those years. Never in my adult life have I seen a President subjected to the level of disrespect that has been shown to Barack Obama. Even FDR, who certainly aroused deep animosity, didn’t have to deal with the level of pure over-the-top hatred shown to this President. I can only conclude that the election of an African-American President has driven a substantial percentage of white America over the mental edge, to the point where they are willing to undermine their own country if that’s what it takes to show their contempt for its President.

This behavior has to stop.

Barack Obama is THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Deal with it. Love him or hate him—agree with his policies or despise them—feel rage or elation over the fact that a black guy handily won two national elections—the occupant of the Oval Office is entitled to respect.

And We the People are entitled to public servants who understand that the rules apply to them whether their party is in power or not– who understand the need to put aside personal pettiness and partisan vindictiveness when they reach the water’s edge.