Boehner and Cantor versus Augustus Barack I
Now the great Augustus, Barack Hussein Obama, announced to ABC News' Barbara Walters that he's "pretty confident" that Republicans will cave on taxes.
Okay, so our jaunty Augustus didn't use the word "cave," but he might as well have skipped the niceties and used the C-word. Why not rub it in? One doubts that the empurpled leader of the erstwhile American Republic would say on national TV "I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals" unless he had a good read on his adversaries, the droll John Boehner and his demure sidekick, Eric Cantor.
And only Jove knows what Speaker Boehner and Augustus Barack I are agreeing to in those secret "negotiations" at the White House. Negotiations might be too charitable a word for the speaker's and the president's behind-the-scenes tête-à-tête. Given Boehner's maladroit -- in fact, idiotically impolitic -- public utterances about the need for revenues (more and higher taxes); and the speaker being in-sync on bilking the "rich" (small business people, many); and Mr. Obama having a mandate based on a thin popular majority; and agreeing to agree on tax hikes before agreeing to spending cuts and entitlement reforms -- the president is right to be more than pretty confident; he's entitled to be downright giddy.
The jig is up, as they used to say in the old gangster movies. Boehner reached first for the bar of soap on the prison shower floor, and it's taxpayers who'll wind up feeling the pain most acutely (not to mention the economy and evil businesses, whose obscene profits and jobs Americans depend on -- even the soak-the-rich majority, whose government handouts don't exactly fall from the sky).
The Washington Times reported that the speaker took to the House floor to gravely proclaim the need for the president to "get serious" about their stalled negotiations. Boehner evidently grossly underestimates Mr. Obama's seriousness. President O has been one serious, unwavering dude throughout this entire process of faux negotiations. In fact, the president has been publicly and loudly serious and unwavering in what he expects from his gabfests with the laconic (except when he boohoos) speaker. The president wants capitulation from Republicans -- unconditional surrender -- with a public signing of accords on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri (or maybe on Warren Buffet's yacht moored somewhere on the Potomac).
The president wants white flags and oodles of tribute -- and he wants to use Ohioan Boehner and Virginian Cantor as footstools, a la Rome's hapless Publius Licinius Valerianus, who, after a devastating defeat, provided said utility in perpetuity to the Persian king, Shapur I. Dazed House Republicans, in chains of shame and ignominy, are to precede their Democratic conqueror onto the U.S. House floor as our imperial president strolls into the people's chamber for his inaugural State-of-the-Empire speech this January. (Perhaps GOP Chief Deputy Whip Pete Roskam can trail the president holding a golden crown over his head, whispering a warning in his ear: "All glory is fleeting.")
But the president's glory isn't fleeting nearly fast enough. Boehner has set himself up for a stupendous loss in his dealings with Mr. Obama -- a loss that will shatter the shaky pillars of the GOP. Losing the tax issue is more than a tactical loss; it batters common sense and turns on its head a conservative tenet: Uncle Sam's problem isn't too little tax revenue. Unc's trouble is too much spending and borrowing. Old Uncle Sam is a leviathan government, ever-growing as it engorges itself on more and more taxes, credit, and fiat money.
Americans with a couple of brain cells firing know that more tax revenues into the Washington treasury won't retire government debt; the new money will just be gobbled up in compassionate payoffs to this or that Democratic constituency, to line the pockets via pork of generous Democratic contributors, and to feed the ceaseless appetites of the expanding federal workforce (The Walking Dead). Uncle Sam isn't "revenue" starved; he's blindly, compulsively binge-eating.
So Boehner, Cantor, and GOP House leaders don't know this little inconvenient truth about tax money? Au contraire. Politicians like Boehner and Cantor who have been seduced by Washington's practical politics cult know well that somewhere outside the Beltway lurks things called "principles" -- as in bedrock convictions that are reality and fact based. Principles, which withstand the test of time. Principles worth fighting for, even when polls, focus groups, and the chattering classes indicate otherwise. If one's principles are right, and one is stubbornly committed, one will prevail over time.
The fight in Washington -- if one is willing to call it a fight -- isn't over merely balancing the government's books (a preoccupation of green eyeshade Republicans), but ultimately over fundamentally resetting government's role and relationship to the people. For conservatives, it's finally about discovering the means to advance liberty, to protect the rights of individuals from undue and excessive government interference in their lives and pursuits. Surely, Boehner and Cantor remember when their grade schools taught these virtues (lost to today's public school students in clouds of heady political correctness)? Those virtues are as true today, gentlemen, regardless the PC, as when you were callow youths.
For the president, the fight is about top-down government, European-style, with a little Fidel Castro thrown in for spice. Surely, Boehner and Cantor get the president's racket? Or like other Republicans and Beltway conservative poltroons, do they believe that the president has an "historic opportunity" to do something significant about entitlements? Suckers are born every minute, huh?
The hard truth is that John Boehner and Eric Cantor aren't up to the tough work of fighting for liberty and the nation's future, which hangs precariously in the balance. Boehner, Cantor, and Boehner's other lieutenants are instinctively get-alongs and fixers. These aren't men who make revolutions, nor do they take to the battlements to repulse a resolute enemy (imagine Boehner and Cantor with olive branches and not swords in hand at the Gates of Vienna in 1683?).
There are some fifty representatives in the GOP House caucus who owe their jobs in large part to the tea parties and grassroots conservatives. It's time for this bunch to stop worrying about plum committee assignments and loss of perks and coalesce to insist that the speaker stand-down for re-election. Ditto Cantor and the other feckless wonders who make up the GOP leadership. Failing to persuade GOP leaders to relinquish their roles, House conservatives need to run their own slate of candidates in caucus votes and for speaker when the whole House votes in January. Or conservatives en masse need to vote "present" when Boehner squares off against the plucky Nancy Pelosi.
Nancy Pelosi elected speaker by default? Wouldn't that make for an intriguing and delicious muddle in the U.S. House of Representatives? A Democratic speaker and a Republican majority -- what glorious confusion and gridlock! And as freedom-lovers know, government stymied is one of the best protections of rights and freedoms that Americans know.