Wednesday, February 13, 2013

John Boehner's facial expressions and body movements

I watched the State of the Union Address last night and two things leaped out from the screen: first, Barack Obama, perhaps for the first time, looked free and happy; second, John Boehner, not for the first time, looked very frustrated. (Biden looked Bidenesque.)

Boehner was far more interesting to watch. Obviously he has been told, or realizes on his own, that he can't sit behind a President of the United States, even Obama, and show scorn or anger. He has to maintain as close to a deadpan expression on his face as humanly possible. But this is a difficult pose for any mortal to maintain for an entire hour, particularly when the guy in front of him is successfully painting him into a corner that he most likely does not want to occupy. It's equivalent to watching a great stand-up comic and trying to suppress even a smile. 

I thought Boehner looked uncomfortable, not just because he is personally "conservative," whatever that means in the context of our pay-to-play Congress, and thus disagrees with a lot of what Obama was proposing, but also because he was watching Obama set him up for two years of fighting within the Republican Caucus. 

Boehner may not be the second coming of Henry Clay or Speaker Joe Cannon. But he is a good enough politician to realize that the action is always in the center and the win goes to who can dominate the center, from either left or right. Hence, his on-again, off-again efforts to reach agreement with Obama back in 2011. He decided then to punt on third down and see what happened in November 2012. Now he has the answer.  He must realize that the tide has turned and that the election results in November pose a major challenge for Establishment (K Street-dominated, golf-and-country-club loving) Republicans like him. (The GOP would have lost the House had the vast majority of the seats not been gerrymandered by Republican-controlled state legislatures.)  He definitely knows that if the people whom he must look to muzzle and ultimately defang the right-wing nuts who dominate the Republican Caucus are pretend-loyalists like Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, he has good reason to look as if he just swallowed a peeled lemon. 

Jindal's imprecation that the GOP stop being the "stupid party" without actually changing any of its positions is the rhetorical equivalent of Boehner's squirming and twitching. 2 plus 2 is not zero. 2 minus 2 is zero. In other words, if the Republican Party is again going to be able to contest Presidential elections, there must be not just a change of rhetorical tone, including resorting to speaking en espanol, but a change of positions on countless bloody-shirt issues for right-wingers. Or there must be a purge of those right-wingers. Far easier said than done, which is enough to put a serious frown on Boehner's face.

1 comment:

  1. Richard,

    I read your comment re John Boehner with amusement. Of course JB was uncomfortable as he was forced to watch the dentist drilling without the benefit of novocaine.He even had to smile.

    Moreover his own party has now turned on some of its specie as prey and are feeding on their "poison". Some were derided as being outlandish male fundamentalists who are still in feudal times.

    What I fear may happen is that a third or splinter party ( such as Rand Paul and the libertarians) will not only arise but possibly win enough seats to divide the Congress and result in a Congress without a majority of the main parties and consequently end up as group that can bargain cetain positions as happens in other countries such as France, Italy and even Israel.

    Woe is US!