Type to search

Eric Garner Offers Boehner A Path To Redemption

Bloomberg View Memo Pad Politics

Eric Garner Offers Boehner A Path To Redemption


Dec. 4 (Bloomberg View) — What does the death of Eric Garner, following a police chokehold, have to do with immigration? For House Speaker John Boehner, perhaps quite a lot.

Boehner has been trying to contain the Republican  reaction to President Barack Obama’s recent executive action on immigration. Boehner’s hopes of passing comprehensive immigration reform were dashed long ago. But he would still like to mute his conference’s most virulent anti-immigration voices — call it the Steve King caucus — to keep his party from becoming further identified with intolerance. (Thursday’s debate on the “Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act of 2014,” a bill sponsored by Republican Representative Ted Yoho, won’t help. It essentially puts the party on record in favor of mass deportation. And the House passed it.)

Republicans are quick to mount the barricades against Obamacare or taxes on high incomes. When it comes to protesting injustice against the poor and marginalized, their reflexes can be unnervingly slow.

Senator Rand Paul shrewdly (and even bravely, despite some dissembling) has tried to shift perceptions that Republicans don’t care about racial minorities, speaking before black audiences and citing his belief,  however unreal, that the Republican coalition can bring in a substantial number of black voters in 2016. Confronted by the news of a grand jury’s refusal to bring charges against a police officer who put Garner in a chokehold, however, Paul whiffed. In effect, he focused his outrage on the supreme injustice of New York’s cigarette taxes rather than the loss of a man’s life in police custody.

Boehner’s reaction was both smarter and more humane. Asked about the grand jury decision, Boehner said, “The American people deserve more answers about what really happened here.” Significantly, Boehner also “hasn’t ruled out holding congressional hearings on the matter,” according to BuzzFeed.

Hearings chaired by Republicans would be good for the country and good for Republicans. They would establish precisely what protesters say they are fighting for: an assertion that “black lives matter” to the nation’s leaders and political institutions. At the same time, they would show that Republicans know how to be a party of all Americans, not just the white parts. And they would showcase Republicans grappling with a complex problem instead of unleashing the party demagogues on Benghazi for the umpteenth time.

The timing is auspicious. The Republicans’ aggressive turn against immigrants is highly unlikely to sit well with Hispanics and Asians. Black voters already shun the party by embarrassingly large margins.

It’s not all about political opportunism. Plenty of conservatives are genuinely appalled at the circumstances of Garner’s death. Thursday’s Department of Justice report on the Cleveland police department, released in the wake of a police officer’s fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy there, underscores the need for a serious federal inquiry. Hearings would be good for everyone. Go for it, Mr. Speaker.

Photo: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr



  1. plc97477 December 5, 2014

    Go on guys. It will at least give you something to do when you are not on vacation.

  2. highpckts December 6, 2014

    Never happen! Boehner had at lest 500 days to come up with some sort of immigration deal before the President used Excutive action and he couldn’t come up with anything except to criticize the President for acting alone! I hope his right wing members devour him and spit him out!

  3. Dominick Vila December 6, 2014

    One of the biggest dilemmas for the GOP is finding a way to satisfy its base, while projecting an image of humanity and inclusiveness that is sorely lacking both in policy and in rhetoric. I suspect the GOP leadership is well aware of the fact that the state advantage that allowed them to get full control of Congress in 2014, coupled with a complacent electorate, is going to be conspicuous by its absence in 2016.
    I race between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush is likely to energize the country as intensely as Barack Obama’s candidacy did in 2008. Add to that the fact that the most densely populated, and wealthiest, states are solid blue, and it is not too difficult to understand the frustrations the GOP leadership feel at not having to reach out to minority voters. They know they cannot win a presidential election with the vote of white males alone. They need half of the women, African American, Latino and Independent vote to pull it off.
    The most fascinating part of their dilemma is that if it wasn’t for their anti-women and anti-minority policies and rhetoric, they would not have a women problem, and a plurality of Hispanics would vote for Republicans. The latter is not a guess, most Hispanics oppose abortion, are religious, are staunchly anti-socialism and anti-communism, and abhor government handouts. Most despise the GOP because of the insults and threats they hear from the GOP, rather than ideological convictions.
    The GOP has nobody to blame for their women and ethnic minorities problem but themselves.

  4. silas1898 December 6, 2014

    Go for it Boner! Your little hearings will quickly degenerate into a bash “n(blank)s and wet(blank)s circle jerk. The few Democrats should egg them on, but they’ll be too chickenshit.

    Fun for all. Peter and Steve King can be co-chairmen.

  5. Canistercook December 7, 2014

    Guess we will hold your desired hearing after we hold one on the IRS, Benghazi et al.

    1. jmprint December 8, 2014

      Benghazi, I love talking about Benghzi, how much money was spent on this B.S. Gotta love the republican WASTE.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.