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Tilting at Windmills

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December 13, 2010

BOEHNER ON COMPROMISE: 'I REJECT THE WORD'.... In a segment last night, "60 Minutes" featured incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in what was basically a bio piece. This wasn't hard hitting, and it wasn't intended to be -- most Americans have no idea who John Boehner is, so the story was basically an introduction.

And while I suspect much of the attention will end up focused on Boehner crying -- as is his wont -- during the interview, there were a couple of a substantive exchanges.

Most notably, Lesley Stahl brought up the notion of a conservative Republican Speaker cooperating with a Democratic president. It led to this back and forth:

Boehner: We have to govern. That's what we were elected to do.

Stahl: But governing means compromising.

Boehner: It means working together.

Stahl: It also means compromising.

Boehner: It means finding common ground.

Stahl: Okay, is that compromising?

Boehner: I made it clear I am not gonna compromise on my principles, nor am I gonna compromise...

Stahl: What are you saying?

Boehner: ...the will of the American people.

Stahl: You're saying, "I want common ground, but I'm not gonna compromise." I don't understand that. I really don't.

Boehner: When you say the word "compromise," a lot of Americans look up and go, "Uh-oh, they're gonna sell me out." And so finding common ground, I think, makes more sense.

When Stahl noted the tax deal, and the fact that Boehner had to make concessions when dealing with the White House, she said Boehner did, in fact, "compromise." Boehner replied, "We found common ground."

Stahl responded that Boehner seemed "afraid of the word." The incoming Speaker replied, "I reject the word."

I suppose some of this comes down to semantics. Boehner's willing to work with Democrats and find areas of common ground, but he's not willing to "compromise." What's the difference? I haven't the foggiest idea. Perhaps Frank Luntz told Boehner the "c" word polls poorly, so it's been dropped from the Republican lexicon.

Regardless, it's hardly encouraging. We're poised to have a large, conservative Republican House majority, an utterly-dysfunctional Senate with a narrow Democratic majority, and a Democratic White House. Each has principles they'll want to defend; each believes they've received a mandate from the electorate; and each believes the public sides with them.

And it's against this backdrop that the incoming Speaker of the House says of compromise, "I reject the word."

Here's hoping White House officials were paying attention to the comment.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

No they weren't. Here's the deal. We are doomed. end of story.

Posted by: anon on December 13, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK


What Boehner said is what happens when media consultants and assorted similar fools have control of a political party.

America I greive for you.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 13, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

"each believes they've received a mandate from the electorate; and each believes the public sides with them"? From all available evidence the Republicans believe everyone in the country - except for a few left-wing screwballs - believes every word they mumble. The Democrats, on the other hand, seem to believe they have to cower and do their best to take whatever the Republicans will give them because otherwise everyone will hate them.

Posted by: ed on December 13, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be the master - that's all."

Posted by: Marc on December 13, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

each believes the public sides with them

The repugs only believe the public sides with them when public opinion polls agree with them. They do the same when CBO estimates agree with them.

Posted by: flyonthewall on December 13, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

ed,

You were right, right up to the last couple of weeks. Haven't you noticed the Democrats stomping around the capitol? About 60 blue dogs and a few others are going home. The Democrats who remain are waking up to their own irrelvance. They don't know how they are going to conduct themselves, but my guess is they will be LOUD.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 13, 2010 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

His counterpart at the Ground Zero of Ground Zeros harbors the same sentiments.

Posted by: Dredd on December 13, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

I'd say what the definition of compromise is in most dictionaries but that would be lending some sort of credence to Boners assinine assertions. This blithering idiot is 2 steps away from being leader of the free world. You want to be a completely partisan asshole go ahead but trying to parse what a word means is complete nonsense.

Posted by: gandalf on December 13, 2010 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

I don't like Boehner or Republicans generally. But this line-in-the-sand wordplay is a necessary feature of being leader of a radical caucus. By most accounts, Boehner is an old-fashioned pol who prefers working with other pols and making deals. He's not Michele Bachmann in pants. He's closer to Tip O'Neill in style and behavior. So "compromise" here is just the necessary linguistic hostage that a pragmatist pays the zealots.

Posted by: walt on December 13, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

He sounds like Foster Brooks.

Posted by: SaintZak on December 13, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

There's a few different definitions of the word "compromise" and here's the one our future speaker was referring to: "transitive verb to undermine or devalue somebody or something by making concessions."

Posted by: CT Voter on December 13, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

It's like talking to a six-year-old.

PARENT: "Eat your vegetables."

CHILD: "I don't like vegetables."

PARENT: "You like peas."

CHILD: "Yes, I like peas."

PARENT: "Peas are vegetables."

CHILD: "I don't like vegetables."

PARENT (to themself): "I need a drink."

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on December 13, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

I remember when Senator Edmund Muskie cried while defending his wife's citizenship, she was born in Quebec, Canada; and her honor. He was pillaged by the press. Tan man seems to cry at the drop of a hat. Yet! The right wing press, the Goebbels Propaganda Network, Lush and the rest seem to love him. He will be an American nightmare.


g\

Posted by: iyoumeweus on December 13, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

"Common ground" is grounded in Jesse Jackson's 1984 Presidential candidacy! Look at the tapes, and you will see Jesse time and time again seeking "common ground" on the campaign trail and at the Democratic convention!

Now, we Americans are not known world-wide for our keen historical memories, and as a consequence, we are most probably now hearing a Frank Luntz tested political term that means the same thing as a term John Boehner and his cohorts are running away from!

Why read fantasy, pay for stand up comedy, or think absurdly when all one needs to do is look at the Republican Bozos on the Bus as the Wheels Go Round and Round! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 13, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

He is going by the definition liberals are using these days as well. More and more, the left is resembling the right in it's rigidity.

Posted by: compromiser on December 13, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Boehner's a damn fool. He will do what his backers tell him to do.

Posted by: June on December 13, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

"When Stahl noted the tax deal...she said Boehner did, in fact, 'compromise.' Boehner replied, 'We found common ground.'"

In the tax cut deal Republicans didn't compromise on their principles: tax cuts for the rich is their core principle, and that's what they got. The rest of it (unemployment benefits, middle class tax cuts, etc) doesn't really matter to them, as evidenced by the fact that they were willing to take the rest hostage till they got their way.

Posted by: delNorte on December 13, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

He won't say the word "compromise" because he know's that's an easy way to be primaried next election. Next month "common ground"may be the word that he's forbidden to say....
His crying thing is disgusting and so is his "I'm just a poor boy" storyline. The guy is a rich politician working for the MegaRich. When he's done, he'll be remembered as a grade "A" SOB. (no pun intended)

Posted by: T2 on December 13, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

I think he's trying to say "common ground" = overlap. So, in his mind he can rationalize tax cuts for the non-wealthy, because, well, they're tax cuts. Now, unemployment benefits, that may make him cry.

Posted by: RollaMO on December 13, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Correction to Benen's posting...

"We're poised to have a large, conservative Republican House majority, an utterly-dysfunctional Senate with a narrow Democratic majority, and a Democratic White House. Each has principles they'll want to defend; each believes they've received a mandate from the electorate; and each believes the public sides with them."

should be changed...

from "...Senate with a narrow Democratic majority..." to "...Senate with a large corporately owned majority..."

from "...a Democratic White House..." to "...a DINO White House..."

from "...each believes that the public sides with them." to "...a House which believes that the public sides with it."

For further clarification, the obvious should be noted in that the White House will not fight for what it 'professes to believe in' when polling shows overwhelmingly that the public does side with what it 'professes to believe in'. For example, the public option for health care. For example, not extending the Bush tax breaks for millionares and billionares.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on December 13, 2010 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

"Here's hoping White House officials were paying attention to the comment."

I'm sure they did, and are already making plans to move even further to the right to accommodate him.

Posted by: Tom Allen on December 13, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

That whole episode made me sick "Boehner
Says Obama Disrespected Him" - Irony meter off the scale.... Weeping sorry old drunk. "Man Up" like your favorite teabagger talking point. How about a few tears for those people you are willing to throw out in the cold so your uber rich buds can get a tax break. Heartless piece of shit. Go Fuck yourself.

Posted by: John R on December 13, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

boehner thinks k-street is governlng

igmoe

Posted by: Kill Bill on December 13, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Of course there's a difference.

Boehner's not willing to move an inch. If Obama will come to where Boehner is already standing that's fine, but Boehner won't move toward Obama - not on anything, not ever.

Posted by: Bloix on December 13, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

This blithering idiot is 2 steps away from being leader of the free world.

Well, some might say crybaby Boner is already the defacto leader of the free world. But in fact, crybaby Boner is just the defacto mouthpiece of lobby-land and lobby-land is the actual leader of the free world.

Posted by: Oh my on December 13, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Boehner doesn't believe in compromise he just believes in finding areas were both parties agree. It should be a very unproductive congress then because they don't seem to agree on much

Posted by: Bruce on December 13, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

delNorte (Hola!) is right - Boner rejects "compromise", period. His "common ground" is when Democrats agree to adopt his Repub demands, in their totality. His ground is the only "ground" he'll agree to.

It's date rape. In 20 years, why haven't Democrats and their leadership woken up to this?

'Scuse me, I need to call my Senators to implore them to vote against this Very Bad Tax Cut bill now... Several of you might want to do the same.

Posted by: zandru on December 13, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Quit picking on Boehner. Lots of drunks do the weepy routine.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on December 13, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

When did the Republicans decide to destroy Nancy Pelosi's name and reputation? Was that after the 2006 elections? They have been hugely successful in that character assassination; She's the most unpopular politician in the USA which I find hard to believe because I've seen her fighting for working people more consistently and with more energy than either the POTUS or Harry Reid.

My point is, that Dems haven't had a media strategy, and we need one. We should go after Boehner like wolves on a fold. We need to make him radioactive. We should use the language that speaks to his base. Boehner is unnatural. He is possessed. He is defective. He is weak. He is flawed. Boehner has sold out to the rich. Boehner is the poodle of the rich. He's not a true Christian, just a sham, a cheater, exploiting true believers, etc.

Speaking of media strategy, I was thinking this morning of my representative, Betty McCollum. A really decent woman, a solid liberal--have you ever heard of her? Constitutionally, she has exactly the same position authority as nutso Michelle Bachmann--one is a Congresswoman from MN's 6th district, and one is a Congresswoman from MN's 4th district. So how is it that one has managed to make herself the leader of Tea Party caucus and media darling, popping up on the nightly news to say the latest stupid thing, but only her constituents have heard of McCollum?

We need to be making more of a fuss when the media fails to report the liberal story, and we need attractive spokespeople.

Posted by: PTate in MN on December 13, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

We have a large Republican House majority; a completely dysfunctional Senate with a slim Democratic majority, and a Democratic president desparate for the cool conservatives kids to like him and, apparently, eager to crap on his base so he can say: "See? I'm not a liberal! They're stoopid!"

This will work out just fine. President Huckabee, paiging President Huckabee, your house is ready!

Posted by: Charles G on December 13, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

They would get nothing done with only a house majority but Obama and the blue dogs are actually themselves Republicans so
who says "common ground" won't be found on all manner of issues?? That's why I'm voting for Palin in 2012; in order to make certain the whole shithouse goes up in flames. If you can't beat them, join them for one final, glorious purpose!

Posted by: trollop on December 13, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

With all due respect, The Speaker To be sounds and acts more like a traumatized guy with PTSD then a legislator. By the way, the word compromise, as a noun or a verb, means the following from Webster's New World Thesaurus: (n) covenant, bargain, give-and-take; (v) conciliate, find a middle ground. How is this guy supposed to represent us and run the House if his nutty base rejects the word compromise? Good grief.

Posted by: max on December 13, 2010 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Per Webster's Collegiate, the second meaning of "to compromise" (intransitive) is "to make a shameful or disreputable concession." That's how Boehner's thinking of it.

As Luntz-speak goes, "to find common ground" isn't a bad substitute for "to compromise," given that the latter term does have some pejorative connotations. I don't think we Dems should balk at adopting it.

Posted by: Swift Loris on December 13, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Bloix and zandru are exactly right. "Common Ground" means when Dems agree with him, completely, in every last detail. "Compromise" means when he gives up something, anything, any tiny little inconsequential thing, to get something done.

Posted by: KarenJG on December 13, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, what Boehner is saying makes a great deal of sense.

The GOP ran against the notion of diluting principles by "compromising" with the democrats, particularly Obama. So the word, "Compromise" is politically toxic with the GOP Base.

What Boehner is essentially saying that is he willing to compromise with the democrats but not use that particular word.

Politics 101.

Posted by: ChrisNBama on December 13, 2010 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Diluting what principles, exactly? Which of the right's principles haven't already been diluted to the point of insanity by an excess of money and the lure of power? Or are you talking about a new set of principles, like feeding the wealthy and starving the poor while hiding sin behind the Bible and blaming the left for the right's inability to govern with anything more mature than kindergarden tactics?

If it's the latter, I concur with you.

Skip in Alabama

Posted by: Skip on December 13, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Oh honest to Pete! 'Disrespect?' I reject the word...I call it 'teasing' you sorry old sod. Compromise? How 'bout THIS?

compromise is a concept of finding agreement through communication, through a mutual acceptance of terms—often involving variations from an original goal or desire.

Thru TALKING you fool, not SPINNING...

Posted by: SYSPROG on December 13, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

I reject the words "puke", "barf", "vomit", and "hurl", so pardon me while I go orally expel partially digested food from my stomach.

Posted by: labman57 on December 13, 2010 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

So what he's saying is that the American people are too stupid to realize that "compromise" and "finding common ground" are the exact same thing. I'll bet he thinks they're also dumb enough to fall for claims like "death panels" and "Obama was born in Kenya." Wait.......... he's right :`(

Posted by: whatthebleep on December 14, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Hands down, Apple's app store wins by a mile. It's a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I'm not sure I'd want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

Posted by: online pharmacy on January 21, 2011 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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