Is Speaker Boehner leading or being led?

Updated

It’s time now to clear the air, and for a man who doesn’t know if he’s leading his caucus or being led by Ted Cruz, it’s easy to see why the House Speaker is now all over the place when it comes to his public pronouncements.

One minute, he says he won’t allow the nation to default because he knows that it would be catastrophic for the economy. The next minute, he says, “Every president in modern history has negotiated over the debt limit. Debt limits have been used to force big policy changes in Washington.”

His ability to speak out of both sides of his mouth would be a clever parlor game if it wasn’t so serious.

One minute, he says the only thing that matters is the economy. The next minute, he says the only thing that matters is ensuring that 30 million uninsured Americans are prevented from getting access to affordable health care.

One minute, he says he doesn’t want a government shutdown because he and his fellow Republicans do not think that this gridlock is a game, and the next minute one of his most outspoken colleagues, Rep. Michele Bachmann, says, “This is about the happiest I’ve seen members in a long time because we’ve seen we’re starting to win this dialogue on a national level.”

And so, with such entrenched confusion matched only by his utterly incompetent leadership, the House Speaker is taking the nation down a road that every economist believes will end in economic disaster. And as he does so, he seems to be personifying a form of despotism as described in this passage from Alexis de Tocqueville’s great work on Democracy in America:

“As for the rest of his fellow-citizens, he is close to them but he sees them not;—he touches them, but he feels them not; he exists but in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.”

If he’s lost his country, how long before he loses his speakership, too?

Is Speaker Boehner leading or being led?

Updated