Obama's 17 Dimensional Chess and John Boehner's Reason to Cry

Boehner-cryingNY-26 is as blood red a district as it gets. Hillary Clinton lost the district twice, even as she won the state with big margins for her senate races. George W. Bush and John McCain won the district even as John Kerry and Barack Obama trounced them in the state in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Then they got a Craigslist Congressman, who resigned. And right now, the Democrat in the special election to fill the seat, Kathy Hochul (by the way, you can click here to donate to Hochul) is statistically tied with the Republican, some polls even showing her leading.

Why? Because of pretty much this: Republican candidate Jane Corwin's support to the Paul Ryan plan to end Medicare. As the candidates debated on Thursday,
Hochul returned time and again to Corwin's support of Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to cut spending and turn Medicare into a voucher program, arguing that it would return the nation to a time when seniors were the most impoverished citizens.
The Republicans made a major blunder on Medicare. It's not particularly a secret to any of us that the Republican leadership wants to end Medicare. After all, this is what the insurance industry and Wall Street that bankrolled their legislative victories in 2010 demand. But what we couldn't have made up in our wildest dreams is that they would be so crass about it. That right after taking power in the House, they would show their cards, and blatantly try to end Medicare. I mean, George W. Bush tried to run the exact same scam with social security just about five years ago, and even his swagger couldn't fool this.

The New Deal and the Great Society are the major progressive achievements of this country that the ideological Right have been after for a long time. And the corporate Right has been after the publicly secure funding in the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. After 2010, the Republicans misread the public mood: they believed that victory was about the deficit, which they could couch any of their radical policy ideas in. And so, Paul Ryan released his path to poverty that he calls a budget, and John Boehner, the newly minted Speaker of the House, put every single House Republican on record on ending Medicare. Damn nearly every House Republican voted for it too.

Rachel Maddow explained this phenomenon of Republican political malpractice on last Monday's show:

Even as John Boehner tries to save a Republican seat in a blood red Republican district a mere six months after a Republican "wave" election, we can track down the origin of Democratic strategy on this and its success: it's none other than President Obama. Just over a month ago, the President literally put Paul Ryan in his place as he threw a challenge to the Republican leadership saying that the Ryan plan would never become law as long as he was president. Obama made it clear that the Republican plan would charge 33 seniors $6,000 extra each to pay for the average millionaire's tax cut in the Ryan budget.

The Democrats and the President did not let this one up. A week ago, Republicans put their tails between their legs, and sounded retreat. Not only that, the recent Democratic campaign to inform the American people of the blatant Republican plan to end Medicare has been so effective that the Republican freshmen held a news conference just to whine that the President is being mean to them, and that the past should just be the past.
The plea for civility comes after Obama and other Democrats have pounded House Republicans for supporting a GOP 2012 budget proposal that would privatize the Medicare program for future seniors, forcing anyone under 55 to buy health coverage from private insurers when they become eligible for the benefit.
Apart from the hilarity of the idea that the same freshmen House Republicans who owe their seats to the anti-Obama hatred, obstructionism, racism and lies for sheer political gain now begging President Obama to be nice to them, they miss the point that this isn't just politics; this is about exactly what they did on policy - voting to end Medicare. The Teapublicans should add a new word to their vocabulary: accountability.

John Boehner has got to be the dumbest speaker in the recent history. He pushed through the House a vote to end Medicare in order to give millionaires more tax breaks knowing full well that it would never pass the Senate or get through the President's veto pen. Yet, showing inexplicable political stupidity, he put every last House Republican on the record on this. And what's worse, he did it two days after the President issued the warning in Paul Ryan's face that he would hold the Republicans accountable.

Ahh, but couldn't one look back at the sequence of events - Paul Ryan's announcement of his Path to Poverty, followed by Obama taking him to task in a speech with Ryan the audience, a vote in the House to pass the Ryan plan, including ending Medicare - and think that there was a masterful stroke of political genius involved in this from Obama and his team? President Obama knows full well what the Republican leadership hates the most: being put in their spot, seeming to be losing, being exposed. Especially by a black guy. Call me crazy, but I think the President knew exactly what he was doing when he put Paul Ryan in the audience for his speech attacking the Ryan plan. He knew he would tick the Republicans off enough that they would take this vote just to get back at him. And then, the Democrats would turn around and cream the Republicans on this. 17-dimensional chess? I don't know, but the President certainly seems to be thinking a few steps ahead of the Republicans and John Boehner.

Boehner and Ryan, of course, stepped right into it thanks to both their hatred for Obama and their greed on behalf of their corporate overlords. Which, in turn, I am sure, has caused many a tears from Speaker Boehner.

What the President did represented masterful execution of political skills, sure. But even more than that, it demonstrated Barack Obama's commitment to preserving, protecting and defending the social compact of the New Deal and the Great Society. Let us never forget that when it matters - whether we are trying to save the great American social compact, extending the promise of health insurance, regulating Wall Street, or fighting for civil and equal rights - President Obama has always stood by us without wavering. His political skills are legendary, but the real reason we stand by him and support him is because he and the Democratic party give voice to ordinary Americans. The 17 dimensional chess and John Boehner's reason to cry all ultimately lead us to a more just, more progressive society.

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