In 2008, America collectively shuddered at the thought of Sarah Palin being within a few heartbeats of the nuclear button. In 2012, America has a group of possibly even more unstable extremists in the House of Representatives with their fingers on the fate of our economy.
The House Republicans proved on their first day of the session that the 113th Congress could easily go down in history as the most dangerous one in recent history.
Yes, the 113th could be even worse than the absolutely invidious, completely irredeemable, incredibly excruciating 112th Congress, which just ended on January 1st.
The last House of Representatives’ chief accomplishments were lowering our nation’s credit rating to get a debt deal that they refused to stick to and naming post offices. They wasted millions of taxpayer dollars pretending to repeal Obamacare 33 times and couldn’t pass the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act once. The last Congress didn’t pass aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy but it voted for 55 different ways of undermining women’s health care.
Then after two years of ugly partisan kowtowing to the darkest corners of the right wing, Speaker Boehner revealed on the last day of the session what most observers already knew: The only thing preventing compromise and productivity was his fear of losing his job.
With a vulnerable recovery still trying to take hold and erase the job losses that begin in 2008, Speaker Boehner almost let the Senate’s compromise bill to avert a blow to the economy die because a few dozen of his members didn’t think the bipartisan bill cut enough from poor Americans receiving food stamps, energy assistance and job training.
He eventually let the bill come to the floor, where it passed easily, though a vast majority of Republicans rejected it.
And within days, verily Boehner found out that fears of losing his job were justified.
On January 3, the House convened to elect its Speaker. Boehner needed to win 217 votes out of a Republican majority of 234. Only 17 Republicans needed to vote for someone else to send the vote to a second round, rendering the Speakership so weak that many thought Boehner would then step down – at least that’s what anti-Boehner conservatives who claimed to have 20 votes against him claimed.
The roll call vote came, and Boehner ended up with 220 votes. If just four more Republicans had joined the coup, his brief reign could have been over. Convicted of the crime of compromising — once.
And where did the nearly successful rebellion against Speaker Boehner begin? As a Twitter hashtag: #FireBoehner