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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Boehner Polishes his “Worst Speaker Ever’ Creds

The August recess is a good time to assess the performance of Speaker John Boehner, who has recently called attention to himself with his Face the Nation comment that “we should not be judged by how many new laws we create…ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.”
Steve Benen responds at Maddowblog:

Let’s appreciate exactly what Boehner is trying to do here. When he and his Republican colleagues sought power, they told the electorate that they would work to find solutions to national problems. After having been unsuccessful, the Speaker of the House has decided to rebrand failure — he wants credit for his record of futility and expects praise for the fact that he and his caucus have made no legislative progress since he took power three years ago.
Instead of finding solutions to ongoing challenges, Boehner believes Congress should be focusing on undoing solutions to previous challenges. By the Speaker’s reasoning, we should probably change the language we use when it comes to Capitol Hill — Boehner and his colleagues aren’t lawmakers, they’re lawenders.
…On the surface, his rhetoric is the epitome of the kind of post-policy nihilism that dominates Republican thought in 2013 — Boehner doesn’t want to build up, he’d rather tear down. Given an opportunity to look forward and make national progress, the Speaker sees value in looking backward and undoing what’s already been done.

Yet, judging Boehner, even by his own standards yields unimpressive results, since congress has successfully repealed zero laws under his leadership.
One of Boehner’s constituents puts it this way at Democraticunderground.com:

In one sentence, John Boehner expresses his contempt for the American people and the job he was sent to Washington to do. If you’re for anarchy, Boehner is your representative. For anyone wanting a functioning government, this is the person who needs to lose his seat in Congress. The fact that his district is so gerrymandered that he can’t lose is testament to the true problems our country faces. I am ashamed that John Boehner is my representative in Congress!!!

Ed Kilgore adds in his Washington Monthly post, “The awesome Weight of Governing“:

As Ezra Klein pointed out a few weeks ago, the only thing that keeps the 113th Congress from rivalling the 112th Congress as the worst ever is its remarkable laziness (unless you count all those votes to repeal Obamacare as hard work):
The 113th Congress simply isn’t doing much. Sure, they’re less popular than dirt mixed with mud, but the 112th Congress was less popular than Nickelback! But thus far, the 113th has avoided shutdowns and debt-ceiling brinksmanship and they’ve managed to avoid leading us into any new, completely unpaid-for wars. So…hooray?
But they’ve still got a year-and-a-half on the clock. That’s time they could use to pass immigration reform and secure their reputation as a Congress that did something big and important and overdue. Or it’s time they could use to learn some tricks from their predecessors and shut the government down or nearly breach the debt ceiling.

So now Republican members get to go home and hear from “base” constituencies who want to shut the government down and breach the debt limit. I’m sure they’ll come back refreshed and reassume the awesome weight of governing.

Boehner has had ample opportunities to demonstrate real bipartisan leadership, but has never risen to the challenge. It’s only fair to add, however, that he is enabled and encouraged by the equally-unproductive majority of his party in the House.

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