Tax Package Illustrates Ego Management Needed in Congress as Well as WH

Posted on December 15, 2010


With Congress sliced into portions on the left and the right not quite large enough to carry the day, and Obama dithering on whether to appear the sacrificial lamb in service to the middle class or the über leader of at least DC, we’ve had yet another taste of what’s wrong with democracy as practiced today. Christy Whitman was on CNN this past Sunday and her comment was that while all sides claim they support the Constitution, no side has had the ability to act civilly when working through issues.  She underscored the point that the spirit of the Constitutional convention itself was instructive. Participants held on to their beliefs tenaciously but in the end realized that compromise was the essence of what they were trying to achieve in government.  She bemoaned the sharp winner-take-all divisiveness found in politics today.

Part of the problem:  Egos.  Here is what the incoming Speaker of the House said this week:

Boehner, who will become House speaker when the new Congress convenes next month, would suffer a big setback if the tax package fails. The criticism from the right clearly makes him and his allies nervous.

Boehner told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he refuses to say he compromised with the White House, preferring to say they found “common ground.”

On tax and spending questions, House Republicans “are on a pretty short leash,” Boehner said. “If we don’t deliver what the American people are demanding, they’ll throw us out of here in a heartbeat.”

He chose his words well in saying that “common ground” was found rather than that a “compromise” had been reached.  In the former, one is seen to not be caving on an issue and losing something.  But then he turns on a dime and mentions that if Republicans don’t give the people what they want, they will be voted out.

Is this “fear” the operative inspiration?  Shouldn’t it be that Republicans will fight hard for what the American people want?  He needs more thought on that one because in saying it the way he did, he is reentering the ring of contesting the opposition in the spirit of staying alive rather than in supporting an issue believed in.  In other words, he is not the champion of the American people per se, he is the champion for his own reelection.

We have just lived through the most ego-driven House Rule in memory.  Nancy Pelosi took the dignity of the Speaker’s  role and held it hostage to back room deals, strong arming colleagues and even intimidating the President at times. People forget that this is the person who is 2nd in the line of succession after the Vice-President.   What we don’t need is a Conservative coming into the position of Speaker and using the power of his position to trample not only dissenting Democrats but liberal and other Republicans.

Finding “common ground” with colleagues as well as the opposition  is what the American people NEED to see.  We need to see leadership that truly brings people together in operation so that the GOP can run on that as the Democrats tried to do. The Conservative cause is a worthy one but like many Muslims, the militant ones grab all of the attention and erode the true message.