John Boehner's downfall: Dana Milbank Live

Jul 29, 2011

Is this the beginning of the end for John Boehner? Read Dana Milbank's column John Boehner?s no-confidence vote and see if you agree.

Dana Milbank Live is your weekly opportunity for a give and take with Dana centering on the latest political news in Washington and his recent columns.

Each chat also features your responses to Dana's Etch-a-Sketch requests -- his lazy attempt to get you to do his work for him by seeking your best lines about the week's political oddities.

Good afternoon, web friends.

Got only about 4 hours of sleep last night so forgive me if I'm even slower than usual.   I've had a lot of coffee so I think I'll be okay, but if I trail off I hope you'll understandddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd





That was a great line. You are whichever hobbit was the funniest. Merry?

Let us begin by saying how annoyed I am that the debt crisis got in the way of giving more extensive coverage to Wu.   There were many jokes to be made about tigers changing stripes and Wu in the Hundred Acre Wood and Tony the Tiger and Tiger by the Tail and all that stuff.   As it was, I had to shoehorn him into a column.   But I'm glad you liked that line.  Thank wu very much.

Why doesn't Speaker Boehner kick Tea Party Freshman to the ground by offering a bill accetable to both the majority of Republican AND Democratic members? He is after all the Speaker of the US House, not merely the head of the Republican Causus.

Because his membership would dethrone him faster than you can say Louie Gohmert  (the Washington Sketch choice for speaker of the House).   Meantime, it's really not just freshmen.   Leadership was having a lot of trouble with Trent Franks, Joe Wilson, Jason Chaffetz, Jim Jordan et al.

My IRA account has already lost $8,000 this week. The prayers of congressmen have no place in a government building. and they are not helping the economy. Do people not understand that organized religion has started almost every war fought on this globe? What has happened to the "compromise"?

I am praying for your retirement account.

As previously noted, mine is fine because it is in Swiss francs.

So who paid for the 40 pizzas? Did they pay for their own pizzas or did you and me, the taxpayers, foot the bill?

I am certain that you and I paid for it.  I'd like to think that I paid for the Al's Pizza and you paid for the Papa Johns.  The Post ordered in Dominos to the press gallery.  I'm not normally a fan but at 11 pm on an empty stomach even cold Dominos is good.   Felicia Sonmez claims she ate 3 slices, which I do not believe because it would have doubled her bodyweight.

Can we trade Speaker Boehner to the New England Patriots, too?

Yes, let's get that local fellow Cantor in there instead. That will go well.


Congress has lost the big picture. We have lot more at stake if we default. Rising interest rate will put a big damper on the economy and drag us all down. The rating will have a big affect on global investments flowing into US.

I believe you are the one missing the big picture.  God has told the Tea Party Republicans to lead the country into default.   The picture does not get any bigger than that.

I don't mean this to be snarky, but watching Boehner's response to the President's call for compromise I was struck by the fellow's lack of intelligence, dignity and likeability. I voted for McCain in 08, but did not much like him, either, although he has been a voice of sanity in the current debate. With the Republican field for 2012 looking especially uninspiring, to what extent might this debt boondoggle be a symptom of the GOP's leadership vacuum? Are they trying to use an issue to score desperate points because they know they don't have a winning candidate? And why don't they have that leader yet? Thank you!

Boehner was a bit too hot in that response speech, but he's actually very well liked, by members and reporters alike.   If he can't get the Tea Party guys in line, nobody can.   

As for a winning candidate, I know I am inviting instant ridicule for this (and I am only writing this because I had too little sleep) but I listened to Michele Bachmann's Q&A at the National Press Club yesterday -- and she was REALLY good. 


He did 52 questions today.

He has two people working for him, so I think that means I'm even if I field 18 questions.   Please don't tell me the squirrel is up against me again.

Outside of the Primary voters and Caucus goers, who is the Republican party really trying to serve with their posturing?

1. God

2. Me (by giving me material).


What is your best guess as to where we will be with the debt ceiling situation one week from now?

I continue to be highly optimistic.  It is my firm believe that Washington will do the right thing once all other possibilities have been exhausted.  We have at this point exhausted pretty much all other possibilities.  Also there is no chance of a deal before the last minute, because that will only fuel criticism that one side (or both) caved.

Why haven't any of the Republican presidential candidates come out and said what most Americans are thinking? That the Tea Party true believers are ruining their party, their country and democracy.

Because these are their primary voters.

On a semi-related note, did you see that Jim DeMint called McCain a troll?

I note the Speaker's line, "Gets your asses in line." While this does not raise to the level of V.P. Cheney's telling Senator Leahy to "Go F--- yourself.", I'm pleased to see the Speaker acknowledges his audience. My question is why people who seem intent on destroying 238 years of federal laws, rulings, and rights for many are called "conservatives." I had thought "conservative" meant "reasonable, rational, not given to the heat of passion, but rather one who thinks out issues, gather's data, weighs options, tnen makes a decision". These "Representatives" seem to be anarchists. They don't believe in government.

What I think is interesting is that between Boehner and Obama ("tell me whose ass to kick") we can now use ass in polite company.  It joins the word "crap" in this PG rating.


Mr. Milbank - You write: "The Lord will surely bless the nation with higher interest rates... in a default." Why do you think interest rates will rise? And -- given that reasoning -- why are they still falling, even today? My point is this: The danger of economic collapse to which you correctly refer doesn't come from the financial markets. It comes from the cuts in spending that everyone in Washington seems to favor. And this is true whether the cuts are imposed suddenly by a "default" or in an orderly way by some "grand bargain." As the economy slows -- practically to a standstill as it already has -- interest rates will fall, not rise. James Galbraith

I am not in the Moody's to argue this point, but the people who run this country -- the credit rating agencies -- have apparently arranged for interest rates to rise.

Sir. I'm a drunk, arrogant, angry SOB. I can't hold a job. No one likes me. My pits stink. Cats and dogs flee at the sight of me. Tools break in my hands. Birds do not appear whenever I do. My mother changed her last name the day I was born. Is there a power job awaiting me in the U.S. House of Representatives? I may not be the sharpest pencil in the cup but I can make mistakes with the best of them. And once bought, I stay bought. So please, sir. How about me? Sluggo Dogsbody, Everywhere USA

Well, in the freshman class we've got a reality-tv star and an auctioneer (who marked Amy Winehouse's death by mocking her in a Tweet), so I think you are in pretty good shape.  If you can get DeMint's endorsement you are all set.

As a fan of your columns/perspective, I am not sure the side note about "tipsy" lawmakers returning from dinner added much to your column besides raising the question of how do you know they were drinking last evening?

The nose knows.

I thought it conveyed the general circus atmosphere of the Capitol last night, this notion of some drunken represenatives pretending to be tour guides at a time when we are on the edge of default. 

Didn't David Brooks say on Monday that the Old Pros in Congress were now in charge? We're waiting ...

They were in charge -- on Monday.

"Dana Milbank : I believe you are the one missing the big picture. God has told the Tea Party Republicans to lead the country into default. The picture does not get any bigger than that." Thanks for your column - I think the influence of religion on the Tea Party platform is under-reported, probably because it is so very bizarre. I've had "discussions" with Tea Party supporters whose bottom-line on absolutely every issue, from gun control to economics is, "God gives me my rights, and I'm only accountable to Him." When I suggested that they maybe wrong about a few things, I was told, "Well, we'll see" as in, "Well, I guess we'll find out who is right when we are dead and God tells us." Frightening stuff.

I will be gobsmacked if I die and discover that Tim Scott was correct and God really did tell him to force the nation into default.   On the other hand, if Tim Scott is right about that he's probably right about the whole Jesus thing, so I've got bigger problems.

Dana, Boehner was much more capable when handing out checks from Tobacco on the House floor; this is too much for him, would you agree?

Good point.  And not just Boehner.  One of the storylines of last night is he wasn't able to twist arms because he had nothing to offer these guys.    I wonder if we'll start missing the good old days of earmarks and other forms of grease.

Speaker Sam would not be treating the bratty kids to pizza. He would be sitting in his rocker with a glass of bourbon on his desk and a firearm across his lap.

No doubt.  The Boehner-Cantor suite is right off statuary hall, and I was all alone in that beautiful space last night wondering what Sam Houston, Huey Long and the other giants there would make of the small men in the next room. 

Why are we letting 25% of our citizenry drive the country over the cliff? And remember, this is the 25% who continue to insist that President Obama wasn't born here, and is going to take their guns. They also seem to be the same people that slept through History and Government classes.

Not even 25%.      There are about 30 of these guys in a House of 433.    In my colleague Jennifer Rubin's blog last night, she quoted a GOP aide saying there were "buckets of crazy."  But the truth is, in this environment you only need a thimbleful of crazy to wreck the whole thing.  

A couple years ago I read a piece about senior North Korean officials who visited South Korea. They had such insulated perspectives that they even assumed the highway from the airport into Seoul had been built specifically to impress them. I also remember seeing the Palestinians complain during the Monica Lewinsky scandal that the whole affair must have been a Jewish/Israeli plot to undermine the Middle East peace process by distracting Washington with scandal close to home. Have we reached that point with some of these people in Congress? Do they even live in my world anymore?

The mindset isn't really the conspiracy-theory (although there are/were a few birthers) type as much as a quasi-religious adherence to a belief that government is bad, and all decisions flow from that unalterable belief.  I'm not sure this will reassure you.

Can't we just cut her out-- she has been trouble since the continentlal congress-- something about slavery, I think......

Can we keep Charleston?

As Someone who routinely serves the Honorable Members of the House of Representatives, I can tell you that it is far from uncommon for Congressmen (and especially their staffers) to drink during/before/after key votes. Are there any places that you like to frequent to observe that pheonomenon?

I hear there was a lot of activity at Tortilla Coast last night. 

Let me hasten to add that I have no problem with them drinking before, during and after votes. 

I'd love to hear Barbara Walters say THAT three times fast!

That is just wude.

I believe some people are writing john Boehner off too early. He potentially has much greatness ahead of him. He could be on "Dancing with the Stars".

Problem is after that, if he continues in the Hammer's path, he may have to go to prison.

Last week tiny Latvia impeached the country's whole Congress. We really need to kick our deadbeats out as well. Can we, the people, impeach our Congress?

Actually, if they simply paired a debt-limit increase in legislation impeaching Obama, the Republicans wouldn't even insist on budget cuts.

You know you're in trouble when McCain is the voice of sanity.

I think the old McCain may be coming back, now that J.D. Hayworth is in his rearview mirror.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle a troll.

Oops, sorry. It was Rand Paul who called McCain a troll.   But Mac had it coming for calling the Tea Partyers hobbits.

I am glad to see from other comments that I'm not the only one who thinks the tea partiers are anarchists. It is amazing how easily they took control of the party. Although I will admit that it would almost be easier to join them. At least that way I could say whatever I wanted without ever needing evidence to back it up.

Don't take this wrong, but maybe you are the problem.  If sensible Republicans leave the party, then that increases the clout of those who remain.

Even if the Republicans get their act together and work out a debt ceiling compromise, the world has seen the cracks in America's social fabric, and things won't be the same. If you come home, and your spouse is holding a Molotov cocktail and threatening to burn down the house, you will look at things quite differently in the future, even if the threat is not implemented. If not today, perhaps tomorrow. America runs on hope. Obama offered hope and failed miserably; the Republicans haven't even put the subject on the agenda. Hopeless Americans can turn very nasty indeed.

Who told you my wife did that?


If the nation goes into debt, we have the solution: Sell New Jersey.

Think South Carolina will buy it?

Since when is D.C. polite company?

Oh, crap, you're right.  But there may be decent Americans who stumbled across this chat looking for that squirrel.

"I think the old McCain may be coming back, now that J.D. Hayworth is in his rearview mirror." Well, the Maverick walked it back, nay sprinted it back, on Hannity the other night. He loves the Tea Party again. At least on Fox between 9 and 10 p.m.


By the way, Michele Bachmann says she watches MSNBC and reads the Huffington Post.  

Is it me, or has John Boehner gotten less orange or have I just gotten so used to him I don't notice it anymore?

Possibly the rest of us have become more orange? 

How do I switch my IRA account to your off shore bank?

write a check to this address and i'll take care of it for you:

Dana Milbank

Washington Post

1150 15th St. NW

Washington, DC 20071

Did you see The Daily Show this week where Jon Stewart referred to Boehner as "The Sad Tangerine?" I cannot stop laughing at this.


See, he's still orange.

Steve Colbert did a nice bit on that last night, but I was so disappointed that Hermain Cain dissed the Colbert and backed out of his interview. That would have been must see TV--- as you are Hermain Cain's biggest supporter, I think you need to urge him to reconsider.

Disappointed in the Hermanator, but I've dropped him for Bachmann, in case you haven't been able to tell from this chat.

Feel about the current situation? He'd whip those reps into shape.

Speaking of statues, as I walked by Uncle Joe Cannon outside the quiet House chamber last night, I could've sworn I heard him groan.

Well, it's time for my nap.  Thanks for chatting and check back next week so we can discuss how broke we are.

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Dana Milbank
Dana Milbank reviews the political theater of the nation's capital in his editorial-page column. His most recent book is "Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America;" his other books are "Homo Politicus" (Doubleday, 2008) and "Smashmouth" (Basic Books, 2001). Milbank joined The Post as a political reporter in 2000 and wrote the "Washington Sketch" column for nearly six years. He lives in Washington with his wife and daughter. • Dana Milbank Bio & Archive
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