The Boehner-Cantor tango

Don't miss the excellent story by Bob Cusack and Molly K. Hooper in The Hill about the latest intrigues involving House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

One wonders if the House members’ dining room might need to hire a food taster to protect certain Republicans from other Republicans. Suffice it to say that whatever the deep background story, I worked for House leaders under three Speakers, and if any Democrat had acted toward then-Speaker Tip O'Neill the way Cantor "helped" Boehner, he would have found his House office space moved to Wasilla, Alaska. If any Democrat had "helped" then-Speaker Jim Wright the way Cantor "helped" Boehner, the Longworth House Office Building would have secured a new elevator operator, even if the new elevator operator was a former majority leader. I will confess that on one occasion Wright offered this option to yours truly, unless yours truly "got on the program" ASAP (as he said it, his pen was menacingly pointed an inch from my eye!).

I patched up my issue with Speaker Wright (groveling was involved), and we were blood brothers forever thereafter. I have a hunch the Boehner-Cantor tango will continue until the music ultimately stops and one of them is dancing in a different hall.

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The sad thing is, on the matter of assistance to victims of Hurricane Sandy, what happened to them was disastrous and despicable. My sympathies are with the Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, the Republican member (and committee chairman) from New York, Pete King, and above all the poor victims of the hurricane, including my senior-citizen mom.

For these kinds of events to occur between any Speaker and any majority leader on any issue as momentous as the fiscal cliff and Hurricane Sandy is unprecedented in my experience and has seriously weakened the credibility of the Speaker, the majority leader and House Republicans.

Far be it from me to offer advice to a Republican Speaker, but my advice to Speaker Boehner, with whom I have some sympathy on these matters, is that he should lay down the law to certain House Republicans, including his majority leader, to remain a viable and effective Speaker.

In the meantime, the next time I dine in the members’ dining room, I will bring my own food taster, just in case.