John Boehner

Weep softly, carry a big gavel

Speaker Boehner shifts the House into reverse. Plus: Why I called Pat Buchanan "honey." (I have no idea)

Joan Walsh
January 6, 2011 6:06AM (UTC)

House Speaker John Boehner grabbed for the biggest gavel he could find before he gave a speech hailing his own "humility" on Wednesday as he took on his new leadership role. Boehner pledged to be open to dissent, debate and discussion from the Democratic side of the aisle – even as his first legislative priority, a full repeal of "Obamacare," will move forward without amendments. Big gavel = humility; Open debate = no amendments to the House's first major bill. Got that?

I discussed the House GOP's turn back the clock strategy today on MSNBC's "Hardball," describing their plans to repeal not only healthcare reform, but significant parts of financial reform, and of course Rep. Darrell Issa wants to bring us back to the Clinton years, with dumb, politically motivated investigations into the "corrupt" Obama administration, particularly "scandals" involving the now-defunct organizing group ACORN and the the meaningless New Black Panther Party. Pat Buchanan took issue with my getting all political, telling me to "give it a rest" because it's just "opening day." Man, I hate sports-related metaphors about politics: This isn't San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers March 31, in which all things remain possible (except for the Dodgers); it's the opening of a new Congress in which the House GOP majority is pledged to roll back every good thing the last Congress accomplished. They've told us that. We know that. Why can't we talk about it?


Strangely (for me), I called Buchanan "honey" when he kept talking over me. After years of being patronized on national television, maybe I've internalized it. I was a little bit embarrassed, although when I watched it, it cracked me up. It's going to be a fascinating year.

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Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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