Recently one of the country’s best satirical writers, Jimmy Breslin passed away after a great career in journalism.
His many columns and books showed a keen insight into how the world of politics works and the characters that inhabit that world.
One of Jimmy’s most notable writings is “the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”
It is a perfect example to describe the House Republican members in Washington,D.C.
Most politicians are so programmed that they go out of their way to avoid making mistakes.
A mistake or two is permissible.
Multiple missteps are taboo in a business where the voters have little patience for fools.
From the antics of the House of Representatives, these past months it is clear that Speaker Paul Ryan is the leader of that gang.
I have watched Mr. Ryan’s periodic press conferences with a great deal of amusement.
He loves Power Point presentations which make him sound like a Harvard professor.
But when you add up the sum total of all of his words, he winds up saying nothing.
My latest favorite is when he showed a chart that mentions the fact that 65 percent of the healthy people are paying for 35 percent of the sickly.
In my mind that’s what insurance is, but somehow he thinks that the healthy should get a free ride.
After watching the antics of the House members over the weeks, I now understand why John Boehner, the former Speaker, was relieved to resign and get away from that bunch of crazies. Eric Cantor, the former Majority Leader, lost a primary contest, but each and every day he must look at his old gang with great amusement.
Somehow, Washington is a better place to be out of office, then in office, on top of making a lot of money as a consultant.
The attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act is a lesson in how government shouldn’t work.
It is a cardinal rule in any legislature that you count the votes of your members carefully and slowly.
When you know that some of your members will never vote for any program that spend a public dollar, it is folly to even think that they will change their votes.
The so-called Freedom Caucus is the best example.
Once known as the Tea Party Caucus, they came to Washington with one goal and that was to destroy the federal government.
Like the biblical Sampson, their goal is to bring down the house no matter who it falls on. If you listen to some of their statements on television, their only message is the word “no” and they won’t be caught voting for anything that helps people.
Going into the days leading up to the ACA vote, Speaker Ryan bent over backwards to appease this small group of naysayers.
He begged and pleaded. He brought them to the White House to meet a president that they have no affection for.
Trump may nominally be a Republican but they were ready to defy him.
Knowing that they are in safe districts, threats from the President mean nothing.
So while Ryan was busy wooing people who want no part of his agenda, another group, the moderates were left hanging onto a short tree limb.
Can you imagine some moderate Republican voting for a bill that strips away things like maternity payments, coverage for serious illnesses and takes away coverage for those 25 year olds living at home?
Once Ryan figured out that he couldn’t sway his far right-wingers he woke up to the fact that the saner members of his conference had left the ship for safer ground.
Real leaders assume nothing and obviously Ryan isn’t a real leader.
The actions of the House Intelligence Committee chair, who sold his soul to the White House, is just another example how politicians become irrelevant in times when we need relevant people.
So the Republican House comedy continues with each passing hour.
Too bad that the voters don’t think it’s funny.