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Where Has John Boehner's Power Gone? Long Time Passing...: CCXV: July 10, 2014

One of the long-term constants of Republican legislative politics as we used to know them was that it was relatively easy to get Republican legislators to fall into line. An authoritative leadership figure--like Ronald Reagan--could, when the chips were down, simply get however many votes he needed from the crazy right to lineup in support of the current bipartisan deal. And an authoritative leadership figure--like Mitch McConnell--could come up with the chips were down, get Republican moderates to abandon their long-term policy priorities simply for short-term political-tactical reasons.

This still seems to hold for Republican moderates. But it does not hold for the Republican right. And Balloon Juice meditates on where Republican leadership power has gone...

Constitutional Mistermix: A Fantasy Film Trailer: "I’m on John Boehner’s mailing list...

...perhaps because I’m a connoisseur of bad political messaging, or maybe just because I’m a glutton for punishment. As you’d imagine, it’s generally pretty awful, but this little message from the bunker stood out. Boehner’s point is to remind the few dozen people subscribing to his mailing list with serious purpose that he’s standing tall, firm and hard on earmarks.

The first thing that struck me about this piece is the “In a world…” scary movie imagery must accompany Republican pronouncements on any topic. How a quirk of the legislative process like earmarks is going to end civilization as we know it is not explained, just assumed. Earmarks are the devil, and only our orange hero and his stiff anti-earmark stance stand between us and the apocalypse.

Getting past the B-movie stuff, it’s interesting to see Boehner trying to paint horns and a tail on Harry Reid for Reid’s acceptance of the painfully obvious: earmarks are a tool for leadership to keep the caucus in line because they help win elections. With Congress doing absolutely fucking nothing, and elections approaching, the lack of earmarks makes it hard for candidates to run the tried-and-true election strategy of demonstrating that they can bring home the pork. And though I realize that we’re supposed to think that “pork barrel spending” is a bad thing, let’s not forget that a well-executed “pork barrel” is full of delicious bacon, ham and sausage.

Speaking of elections, I’m also on the mailing list of a Republican Congressman who’s in a spot of trouble, Tom Reed, NY-23. Tom’s emails to his nearest and dearest speak not a peep of any accomplishment on his part. His sole election strategy is to convince his mailing list groupies that his opponent, Martha Robertson, is the product of the unholy coupling of Lucifer and, say, Angela Davis. In any normal year, Reed’s musings about Robertson’s devil-hippie ways would be leavened with a few examples of the cold hard cash a savvy operator like Tom can bring home from DC. Instead, Reed’s campaign a one-note song that makes a Philip Glass aria sound like a Mozart divertimento in comparison. If Reed does lose his race, and there’s a good chance he will, the lack of a couple of solid earmarks will be part of the reason why...

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