In his recent State of the Union speech President Obama put forth some new policy proposals—things that he would like to work on in his last two years. One of these was legislation to allow workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave per year plus family and medical leave programs. The following is an imagined conversation between the House Speaker and one of his Ohio constituents.
It is late one evening, almost ten o’clock. The Speaker’s staff have gone home for the evening. He is sitting at his desk in his plush congressional office. There is an empty glass in front of him and an open bottle of fine Kentucky bourbon on the desk. The Speaker has already had a half-dozen drinks and is more than a little in his cups. And he is just about to re-fill the glass when the phone rings.
“Yeah, this is Boehner—what d’ya want?” he barks with a deep, whiskey growl.
“Speaker Boehner?” a hesitant voice asks.
Again, “Yeah, this is Boehner—what d’ya want?”
“Ah—sir, my name is Kyle. I’m a voter here in your district in Ohio.”
“Yes—so what?” Boehner curtly replies.
“Well sir, the President mentioned in his State of the Union speech the proposal for paid sick days and family leave. I’m married—with children, and my wife and I both work so this is naturally an issue that’s important to us and our family. And I was wondering if this is something that Republicans in the House could support?”
The Speaker explodes. “Jesus H. Christ! Listen, boy. This is the United States of America! “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”. Employers here in America can’t afford to be providin’ all these goddamned socialist benefits. We’re competin’ in a goddamned world economy, and it’s tough. What do you think this is boy — Cuba, or goddamned Greece? ” Just then there is a quiet little click and the phone goes dead; but the Speaker doesn’t even notice, and the rant goes on.
“This is the home of laissez faire capitalism — the free-market, the law of the “tooth and the claw”, and the survival of the fittest. We Republicans are the party of big bidness, and we can’t be seen by our bidness supporters coddling all these goddamned “coconut” communist sum bitches on the left.” The Speaker pauses and re-fills his whiskey glass, takes a deep swallow.
“Hello!” he barks again. “Are you still there?” But there’s no answer.
“Shit!” he says, and bangs down the phone. Then he takes another sip of whiskey, turns his chair, leans back and looks out the window at the Capital Dome. “What’s some shit-kickin’ little voter doin’ callin’ me? Goddamned back-home constituents are nothin’ but a pain in the ass. Doesn’t he know that I’m an important man with a lot of shit goin’ on. I don’t have time to worry about his sick pay, health care bullshit.”
The Speaker frowns, takes another drink. “Hell, it’s enough to make a man drink,” he says to himself “Just look at the bull-shit that I have to deal with everyday. And the goddamned people — low-life son-of-a-bitches like that boot lickin’, candy-assed Texas corn-holin’ bastard Ted Cruz. That Bolshevik son-of-bitch always duckin’ around behind my back, rilin’ up those Tea Party assholes and causin’ a ruckus — Hell, a goddamned rebellion! — right in my own caucus.”
“Those Tea Party assholes and causin’ a ruckus — Hell, a goddamned rebellion! — right in my own caucus.”
“I got the goddamned press snoopin’ around about some alleged affair I had with a lobbyist, and if that ain’t enough, tomorrow there’ll be some asshole callin’ me—I’m not sayin’ his name, but it rhymes with a popular sodie pop(believe me, he is one pernicious son-of-bitch) — and he’ll be tellin’ me what I gotta do, how I gota push programs that take from the little people (hard-working Americans) in order to make America a better place for him and people like him—the big industrialists assholes who run the country. Hell, when I first came here to Washington I actually believed that I could do some good, help some hard workin’ folks get ahead. But that ain’t the way it is here. If you want to keep gettin’ re-elected — keep your seat — hell you gotta pander to the assholes with the money. And I know better than anyone how politics works in Washington. I came here a poor sum bitch, and now I’m a multi-millionaire ”
“Believe me, this is not how I imagined it for myself, but this is the bull-shit reality of Washington. I know people probably think this is a great job, but I bust my ass everyday and put up with the press and all the political bull-shit just so a few very wealthy people like that sodie pop son-of-bitch can screw every hard-working American.”
He sadly shakes his head, takes another sip of whiskey. “God how I hate my job. Sometimes I just wanta come back here to my office, sit by myself behind my big desk and just drink some whiskey and smoke some cigarettes because that’s about all I can do here in Washington. And it’s a cryin’ goddamned shame too because now that we’re the majority in both houses there are some really positive things we could be doin’ to help the U.S. economy — to help all Americans. We could pass bills that would help students restructure their college debt — lengthen the term of the loan and lower the interest rate. We could pass an infra-structure spending bill that would boost the whole economy and create millions of jobs. We could pass a bill raising the minimum wage that would help lift millions of working Americans out of poverty. We could do something on immigration that would bring millions of people who are living and working here out of the shadows and put ’em on a path to legitimate citizenship. Hell, if we Republicans put our minds to it we could even create a health care program that would be much better, much more comprehensive, and help more Americans than that chicken-shit Affordable Health Care Act. But we ain’t doin’ none of that shit. Our agenda is just to block President Obama and help big business. Besides, I’ve got these wacko Tea Party assholes on the right of me who would shit their pants (literally) if we Republicans tried to do any of this good and decent stuff. God knows I don’t need more noise from that bunch of morons.
He pauses, stares up at a picture of Thomas Jefferson hung on the wall. “It’s disgusting to anyone with a lick of sense, and I’m disgusted with myself for the things that I do in the name of politics. Shit, I used to have principles; but sometimes I don’t think I stand for anything that’s right anymore. Once I thought I could do some good for the country. Now the only ones I help are myself and those rinky-dink lobbyist, piranha-like son-of-a-bitches that I got hangin’ around me all the time.
“Nothin’ happens in this government without money, and I control the goddamned money.”
“And that’s another thing. Startin’ tomorrow I’m tellin’ all those K-Street clowns that I’m upin’ the ante on their lobbyist bull-shit. If they want me to help them pass their phony bills, push their bull-shit legislation (like that Keystone piece-of-crap) through the Congress, then they’re going to have to grease the skids a little better, come up with more cash and perks. After all, I got my retirement to think of. And I’m Speaker for Christ’s sake, top dog in the U.S. House of Representatives, not some chiselin’ little back-bench termite. And I work my ass off here. Last year in the House we worked 180 days. Hell, I haven’t been out on the golf course in two weeks, and already my goddamned tan is fadin’. And listen to this shit. The last time I attended some big Republican conference, I had to fly first-class on a commercial airliner. Well, no more of that bull-shit. If these assholes want me to attend their bull-shit conferences, they’re gonna have to come up with some private jets. I mean, how much can the people of this country expect one man to put up with?”
“And besides, I’m almost the most important man in the whole goddamned free-world. I mean think about it—first there’s the President, then there’s that chuckle-head Vice-President Joe Biden, and then there’s me. That’s the order of succession, just read your goddamned constitution. And as far as I’m concerned those first two assholes don’t count. Remember, it’s the House of Representatives that holds the purse strings—the place where all money bills start. Nothin’ happens in this government without money, and I control the goddamned money. That alone makes me the most goddamned powerful man in the world, and I’m going to show all those Democrat dumb-shits on the other side of the aisle just who’s in charge.”
“And just so everybody knows it, that includes that S.O.B. in the White House. Hell, I just went around his skinny little ass when I invited — on my own goddamned initiative — that other S.O.B. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel to come and speak before a joint session of the Congress. According to the Constitution, the President — as chief executive — usually reserves the right to conduct the nation’s foreign policy. So what I did was outside the usual protocol, and you can bet your ass that I did not bother to notify the White House in advance. This came like a goddamned bombshell to those silly bastards down on Pennsylvania Avenue, and it just tickled the shit out of me and my Republican friends. I’m still laughing. I’ll be holding my own goddamned summit with a visiting head of state. This will show those Democrat son-of-bitches not to screw with me — that I’m not just another pretty face around the goddamned Capitol, but a man of goddamned substance, and someone to be reckoned with.”
“Already the invitation is drawing flak from the left, the news media, and even from the more moderate quarters of my own goddamned party. Those flunky sum bitches (limp-dicked Republicans) will pay though. Just wait until the next time they need a favor. Their going to find out how hard-ball politics really works. Democrats though complain that my invitation to Netanyahu could block progress on obtaining a nuclear deal with Iran. In fact, there are many of my Republican friends (important money people, and groups that represent important money people) who don’t want any kind of Iran deal. If it happened that Obama did negotiate a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran it would be a huge foreign policy coup for the President — like Nixon’s opening to China — but trust me, it’s not going to happen. Already, right now in the House, we’re working on a bill that will increase the economic sanctions on Iran. And that will shut the goddamned door on the President’s plan.”
“Now that we’re the party in charge of the Congress, the majority in both the House and the Senate, the Democrats — and the President too — have indicated a willingness to try to work with us on certain issues. One of them is the TPP, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. The President has even shown an interest in having the bill fast-tracked through the Congress to eventual passage. As Republicans we’re delighted because this is legislation that will most certainly benefit the interests of the large U.S. corporations that trade globally. Too bad because hard-working Americans always get screwed with these phony trade bills. Let’s be clear on something. No international trade agreement — not NAFTA or CAFTA, or any other that I can think of — has ever operated to the benefit of the American worker, and this one is no exception,trust me. But this is something that we Republicans would like to see passed. So we’ll work with these lily-livered Democrat assholes if we have to.”
The President has vowed to veto all Republican bills that attempt to roll-back any of his signature legislation. But right now we’re busy crafting bills to cut-back protections in Dodd-Frank aimed at reducing the big bank’s speculative trading in over-the-counter derivatives, and removing many consumer protections established with the creation of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. We’re going to be working to cut-back Medicare and Medicaid benefits, reduce disability funding and eliminate altogether food stamps. And we haven’t forgot about repealing Obama care. There won’t be an immigration bill, and in the states we’ll be working hard to restrict voting rights. And we’ll be working especially hard to stop any further gay-rights legislation. There won’t be a new education bill that increases teachers salaries, and we’ll do everything we can to increase our defense posture (fight the war on terrorism) and dedicate more money for spending on defense. We will not back-slide on sequestration and more budget cuts; we’ll insist on more tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, and we will not hesitate to shut down the government if we don’t get our way. So you can see, when I’m not snubbing the President, obstructing the workings of the government or nodding off at the State of the Union address, I’m a pretty busy guy with a lot of shit on his plate.”
“The way we Republicans have treated the President has been down-right disrespectful of both the man and the office. But he’s a Democrat son-of-bitch (so as not to sound like a racist, I’m not going to say what else he is). And that’s why, any time I can, I’ll show that sum bitch the middle finger. I know! I know what you’re all thinking. Sometimes when I look in the mirror in the morning I don’t feel like my brother’s keeper, and I really don’t like what I see. But then when I get to work and I look across the aisle at some of my Democrat colleagues, the picture is not much improved. Then I look over at the Senate, and I realize that I’m not the biggest asshole in America. After all, there’s still my buddy Mitch McConnell.”
Outside the window there’s a bright new full moon. Boehner breathes a heavy sigh, finishes the glass of whiskey, looks out at the night sky. “I’m not such a bad man,” he says quietly to himself. “I’m just the creature of a bad political process, a process that no longer benefits the people it was designed to help —the vast majority of the American people.”
The Money Trader