Washington’s new impasse could ironically lead to a gift of sanity as the House Tea Party is finally revealed for the berserk faction it has been all year, holding the nation hostage to a scorched-government ideology.
Senate Republicans, after passing a short-term payroll tax extension by 89 to 10, are outdoing the President in denouncing them for “harming the view, if it’s possible anymore, of the American people about Congress” (John McCain), “playing politics” (Scott Brown) and thinking of “political leverage, not about what’s good for the American people” (Dean Heller, who replaced John Ensign in Nevada).
Speaker John Boehner is the public face of GOP irrationality, but he is clearly trapped by his own deputy, Eric Cantor, the leader of what the No.2 House Democrat describes as a “walk-away caucus...walking away from 160 million Americans.”
For a long time, from the Health Care Summit last year to the debt-ceiling debacle that scuttled Boehner’s Grand Bargain with the President this summer, Cantor has been at the head of those holding the Speaker himself hostage.
Now, he attacks Senate Republicans by charging that “the people of this country are beginning to wonder about the body on the other side of this Capitol and are wondering what the leader over there has against the middle class of this country.”
Cantor has been picking fights with the President for two years now in his delusion that he will replace Boehner someday, but now he is taking on his own party as well.
As Obama approval rises and voters find Cantor’s coal in their Christmas stockings, it may eventually stoke the fires in next year’s electoral heat against his Tea Party followers.
“Enough is enough,” the President said when he walked out in disgust on Cantor this summer. Now that Senate Republicans agree, Washington will have to find ways to get back to business.