John Boehner stayed in D.C. to play politics at a GOP dinner rather than hitch a ride on Air Force One to be at the memorial of the victims of Jared Lee Loughner. It was a horrible miscalculation that just scuttled Johnny Bonehead's pirate statesmanship, which is taking on water.
President Obama offered speaker Boehner a ride out to Arizona, but as Politico reports:
"Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) turned down an offer by President Barack Obama to travel on Air Force One to Arizona for a memorial service on behalf of the victims of Saturday's shooting, a decision that has upset some Democrats.
Boehner is instead scheduled to attend a reception on Wednesday night on behalf of Maria Cino, a former top House GOP aide and Dick Cheney toadie who is seeking the Republican National Committee chairmanship. Boehner is backing Cino's challenge to current RNC Chairman Michael Steele.
While leading party pit viper Sarah Palin became the lightning rod for pundits yesterday for her defensive remarks about being a primary source for the level of rhetoric that has channeled a mentally disturbed individual into an obsessive assassin who tried to kill Democratic congresswoman Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, it will be Boehner's political boat taking on water.
Even before you get to the question of the moral and social obligations of a Speaker of the House, a grey area for the man with the tan, you have to stand in jaw-dropping amazement at the political miscalculation just made by Boehner.
This is a man who has spent the last two years as arguably the biggest of cogs in the heel-dragging machine that was part of the well-orchestrated attempt between GOP leadership and GOP media outlets to discredit President Obama and vilify House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
One has to figure that Boehner ostensibly has some political ambitions for the White House down-road. So it calls into big question the wisdom, even from the purely political world in which he lives, of speaker Boehner attending a political dinner party in D.C. and allowing both Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi to take the stage to speak for American government in a moment drawing global attention.
Mr. Obama came off as the mature and sober statesman, not only providing a moment of healing and clarity for the American people, but also turning into the political wind yet again by pointing out that the heated rhetoric and posturing that has been a hallmark of the Boehner and McConnell era of Republican operation is not leadership.
It went further than that. Even the most fawning Fox-News watcher or Limbaugh-lead dittohead will have a hard time, after they were just sold a bill of goods about the Republicans not representing politics-as-usual anymore, with Mr. Boehner actively engaged in politics-as-usual during a focal moment of national mourning. Especially one so made-for-TV, which has been the media maven Boehner's bread-and-butter politically.
It's a level of bald-faced hypocrisy that is even starting to give the Ray Charles Cheerleaders over at Fox News a certain degree of pause, not out of some stirring of ethics or good journalistic practice, but out of sheer self-interested survivalism.
Even the Fox News viewing audience, many of whom are trained by Rupert Murdoch's minions to believe that a piece of toast with Ronald Reagan's likeness mysteriously burned into it by a suburban housewife's Sunbeam will lead the nation to pre-apocalyptic greatness once more, will have a hard time buying into Boehner's missing the memorial in Arizona as a good thing.
The imagery of Boehner reaching across the aisle with statesmanlike aplomb to check in on the health of Ms. Giffords was lost to Nancy Pelosi, who was able to bask in the glow of being around the room when Giffords, who has miraculously survived a gunshot at close range to her head, began to show signs that she will not only survive, but recover.
That is a moment of news theater that Fox viewers eat up, and even the pundits who have backed Boehner in the past had to step back and give Mr. Obama the kudos for this round.
What is shaping up politically from the aftermath of last week's attack is a backlash against the GOP machine that beat the drum loudly to fire up scared whites into a frenzy that was designed to return the old white boys who had tanked the country and their substantial base of K-Street lobbyists representing every major corporate interest back to power.
The attack on congresswoman Giffords is being seen successfully as the product of decades of the wrongs of the Limbaugh-led Republican Right Radio, the haughty Hannity and the overbearing O'Reilly, without a whole lot of channeling from the left.
Boehner's failure to catch the seat on Air Force One is being seen as a moral failure.
That, in a Republican media machine world built on a steaming pile of false morality, is a torpedo that just scuttled Sarah and is likely to have Mr. Boehner's boner land his political ship on an iceberg that may send his party's legislative agenda, largely based on two years of political theater and imagery, to the bottom.
It is hard to sell snake oil to people as a tonic when they see you out in the back filling the bottles with caster oil and arguing with Michael Steele at a D.C. dinner about who should be going out for the next crate of empties.
The tide is turning against the Speaker, and it is already going out under his statesmanship that was sailing into mock battle with the Democrats over health-care. The assassination attempt has caused some refocus about what is really the people's business, and what is just good politics for Republicans.
Mr. Boehner's ship of state has dropped the false front as a war ship, and folks are starting to see him as he really is: Waving from the deck of the luxury yacht of the billionaires backing him, sipping champagne and spending his time checking in on the political engine room where manipulate the bologna brigade who follow Fox instead of standing in solidarity with the nation in a moment of national tragedy.
It's Richard III kind of political theater, and Mr. Boehner may soon be offering up the kingdom for a horse.
His only hope is that the Democrats do what they do best and blow a hole in their own ship, scuttling themselves when they take aim at the GOP's sinking ship of state.
Knowing the Dems self-destructive proclivities, the political pirate Johnny Bonehead may yet survive.
My shiny two.