Shortly after the House voted down a revised version of President Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson's $700-billion bailout of the financial industry, House minority Leader John Boehner went on TV and showed himself to be a true statesman.
"You know," he told the American people, "the bill didn't fly with some of our own people because it didn't take into account their free-market principles and the concerns of their constituents. And, truth be told, it was a bad bill, conceived and sold to us in an atmosphere of panic. We'll have to get back to work on something that everyone can live with."
Ha ha ha! Just kidding. Boehner actually blamed the failure of 100 Republicans to vote for their own president's bill on the fact that Nancy Pelosi hurt their delicate little feelings.
Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank was quick to recognize the absurdity: "If people's feelings were hurt because of a speech," he said, "and that led them to vote differently than what they thought the national interest requires, then they really don't belong here. They're not tough enough."
"We could have gotten there today," Boehner groused, "had it not been for this partisan speech by the speaker on the floor of the House." Pelosi's speech, Boehner said, "poisoned" efforts to get Republicans to back the bill.
Dudes. You just got called "not tough enough" for Congress by a gay guy. That's got to sting.
The facts are these: The Democrats delivered what they promised, namely the vote of 60 percent of their caucus. The speaker even held the vote open to give more time for arm-twisting. In the end, though, fewer than 30 percent of Republicans voted for their own president's bill, according to McClatchy Newspapers syndicate.
I kept waiting for Boehner to say something later to retract or amend his remarks. Because what he was saying, in a nutshell, was that his Republican caucus is a pack of spoiled children who'll buck him and their supposed party leader any time someone they purport to despise says something they don't like.
But nooooooo. Turns out that "Democrats are at fault because you weren't nice enough to us" is apparently the new party line, to the extent that the Republicans could cobble together a party line.
Honorable John McCain, who "suspended his campaign" to rush back with his hair on fire and supposedly save the day, asserted that now wasn't the time to start assigning blame for the bill's failure. Within the hour, however, the McCain campaign released a statement doing just that, assigning blame to Barack Obama, even though Obama's not even a member of the House. (Man, that Obama fellow's in control of everything!)
But I guess that this sort of flip-floppery shouldn't surprise anyone, coming as it does from the same fellow who said one day he didn't support the bailout of AIG and the next day said he was for it. Frankly the only thing consistent about Honorable John's campaign these days is its inconsistency.
McCain also utilized another well-worn campaign tactic for him, a tactic known as "lying through his teeth." He accused Obama, for example, of failing to support the bailout plan. It is true that Obama did refer to the plan as an "outrage"; however, he went on to say: "But we have no choice. We must act now. Because now that we're in this situation, your jobs, your life savings and the stability of our entire economy are at risk."
Frankly, I think that kind of grudging acceptance is about as close as any Americans are right now to supporting the bailout, and most of us aren't even that close.
Both Republicans and Democrats have failed to convince the public (including me) that using $700 billion to buy the bad debts of Wall Street millionaires who made stupid financial moves is going to benefit anyone but said millionaires.
And the people lit up the Congressional switchboards letting their elected representatives, some of whom are up for re-election, know how they felt. That's why the bailout failed the first time, however Boehner and McCain try to spin it.
People simply aren't ready to believe dire predictions of economic disaster from the administration that sold us the fairy tale about Iraqi WMDs. Nor are they ready to believe the same Democratic leadership that went along with the story and voted George W. Bush a blank check for an unnecessary war. It's like Bush himself says: "Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again."
Maybe someone will be able to explain to me and to the rest of the country why this bailout is a good idea. But that someone won't be a guy who says his party votes based on who talks nice to them. And it won't be an erratic, flip-flopping grandstander like Honorable John McCain, a man who's proven only that he'll say anything to get elected.