As a former Republican member of Congress, it was painful for me to watch current Republican Minority Leader John Boehner spar with George Stephanopoulos yesterday on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” If anyone still harbored a belief that the Republican Party possesses leadership at the congressional level, Boehner’s performance Sunday should disavow them of such optimism.
On issue after issue, Boehner’s responses to Stephanopoulos’ jabs were disjointed, vague and rambling. There were virtually no specifics put forward by Boehner, despite numerous openings provided by Stephanopoulos for the Republican leader to provide a counterpoint to the Obama Administration’s liberal agendas on matters such as healthcare, climate change, and energy policy. On healthcare, the closest Boehner could come to providing a plan to counter Obama’s government-controlled proposal, was to note that “we’re working on a plan.” Regarding carbon emissions and climate change, the Minority Leader talked about “what cows do” as emitters of CO2, and admitted that it [climate change] was a “big issue” and that “I think you’ll see a plan from us.” The GOP’s House leader “thinks” the country will see a plan on a major issue? That’s leadership?
In response to a question about last week’s Tea Parties, at least there Boehner did go on record that in his view Americans do pay too much tax (he’s right about that, despite Stephanopoulos’ efforts to prove that Americans pay too little in taxes), but he offered nothing specific as a solution — only the general point that spending and debt are too high. Of course, specifics for the Republicans on that last point would be a bit hard to defend, since President George W. Bush, with Boehner as the then-House Majority Leader, racked up some pretty hefty spending and debt totals themselves.
Clearly, if the Republican Party is serious about having a shot at reclaiming their majority in the House anytime in the foreseeable future, they’ll need leadership other than what they now have.