The House Democratic caucus is truly pathetic. They are, in fact, so pathetic that I’ve been forced to use a thesaurus to find new ways of describing their pathetic behavior: weak, impotent, pitiful, feeble and toothless. Last night, they again folded completely and passed the Senate’s version of the Obama-McConnell tax deal–as is–even though only a week earlier the House Democratic caucus voted to reject the deal.
This tax deal can be added to the list of legislation, including the stimulus package, financial reform, health care, and countless smaller bills, in which the House Democrats essentially just rubber-stamped whatever came from the Senate.
Their feckless behavior has resulted in their influence being so minor that if we had disbanded the House of Representatives entirely at the beginning of Obama’s term, making the Senate an official unicameral legislature, I doubt the resulting legislation of the past two years would be much different.
I know some have been impressed with Nancy Pelosi’s tenure as Speaker because of the volume and quality of legislation she has passed the House, but I’m not. The job of the Speaker isn’t just to pass “show bills” in the House ,only to see them die a predictable death in the Senate. The job of Speaker is to make sure the legislation the House wants becomes law. On that front, Pelosi and the rest of the House Democratic caucus failed.
Not standing up for the constitutional rights of the institution and demanding the Senate change so as to treat the House as a proper co-equal was a serious dereliction of duty. Failing to do this, time and time again over the past two years, has allowed the chamber become the vestigial organ in our body politic, almost completely without function. The Senate stole all of the House’s power, and the House Democrats didn’t even put up a fight. The rumblings in the House–the fake protest followed by immediate surrender–have made it a joke with the media.
The House under Democratic rule has become about as important as a high school student council, and while Pelosi might have been impressive in how well she controlled that meaningless student council, it is moot given the original sin of allowing the House to become the Senate’s doormat. Being the lead actor in the kabuki play doesn’t change the fact that it is an empty sideshow.
I take no joy in the Republicans taking control and John Boehner becoming Speaker. I oppose almost everything they stand for, but at least they seem intent on reclaiming the rightful powers and influence of the people’s chamber. They actually seem to want to do the job for which they were elected (or want to perceive they were elected), which is more than I can say for the House Democratic caucus after the last two years.