This is a sad and sickening spectacle, like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. Not as bad as Watergate, you say? I beg to differ. However this turns out—and there were reports as I was writing Tuesday night that the House might finally run up the white flag here—this has been in its way worse than Watergate. Watergate ultimately vindicated our system against the machinations of one sociopath. It took time, because he was a president. But even he ultimately observed democratic norms and, when cornered, did the honorable thing.
Today, we have a clavern of sociopaths who know nothing of honor, and we have no easy way to stop them. Except at the ballot box. Except that they’ve rigged that, too, with their House districts. They’ve rigged the whole game so that they light the match and then point at President Obama and shout: “Look! Fire!” And overseeing it all is House Speaker John Boehner, as of Tuesday officially the worst high-ranking elected officer in the history of the United States.
I know, there’s been a congeries of drunkards and rapists I can barely imagine. I don’t care. Boehner is worse than all of them. Let’s review what happened Tuesday.
In the morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were on the cusp of a deal. McConnell got a couple of mild Obamacare concessions in there. The thinking was that those concessions would placate the non-crazy GOP wing in the House, that Boehner would let the Senate compromise pass, and we’d be out of this by now.
But no. The House crazies rose up in fury. The Senate bill was a sellout. And of course, the moment they said, “Jump,” Boehner said, “How high,” and so he and his people started crafting a bill that that was more extreme and, in its way, far sillier. They ended up inserting language that had the effect of making their own employees pay more for their own health care. This in itself was based on a lie that spread through right-wing media in recent weeks, that congressional employees were receiving some special benefit under Obamacare, which was completely not true. But that didn’t matter. Rush Limbaugh was saying otherwise.
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