Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2) wants all her constituents to know that she’s been playing a leading role in getting the government back open – and I’m not referring to the twisted logic whereby she claims that when she and the rest of her crazy party voted for a continuing resolution that defunded Obamacare, they were voting to keep the government open. No, this time she’s really, really proud of her prominent place in a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch article about Thursday’s House GOP palaver with the President which she, as Chair of the House freshman class, attended. In fact she’s so pleased with herself that she sent those of us on her mailing list an email copy of the article.
Whooeeee! Now we’ll know whom to thank when they finally open the government back up. Wagner’s already asserting her claim to a place in the history books, breathlessly gushing, “”it was an amazing moment, and it was a great privilege to be part of it.” A great moment indeed, and one that Rep. Wagner might never have been able to savour had she and her party not gone whole-hog Tea Party and shut down almost the entire government shebang, evidently for no other reason than the pure hell of it. Or so at least one might conclude based on the recent GOP dithering about what it would take to get them to go back to doing what they’re supposed to do.
The article quotes Wagner’s assurances that there was no blaming or name-calling at the meeting. Does it strike anyone as odd that she might have thought the GOP House delegation would be greeted with or would demonstrate rudeness at a business meeting? Of course, some have speculated that the reason that Speaker Boehner did not permit the entire Republican caucus to meet with the President, who had initially requested such a meeting, was that he might be worried about members who have, in the past, shown a proclivity to yell insults at the President like, say, “you lie” at important public events. God only knows what some of the more obstreperous members might do in private.
Also notable in Wagner’s carefully measured account of the meeting is the implication that the wise and purposeful GOPers ran the show:
Wagner said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other GOP leaders spelled out an agenda they wanted addressed in coming weeks.
“We want budget negotiators to tackle the big issues like growth policy, tax reform, entitlement reform and things having to do with the big-picture issue of our $17 trillion debt,” she said.
I don’t really think so. Michael Tomasky presents us with a different but probably far more accurate reading of the meeting that Wagner has attempted to decorate with GOP happy faces:
… Then, late in the day, the Not-So-Magic Bus of 20 Republicans rolled up to the White House, and Boehner put … well, put something on the table to Obama, something involving a six-week increase in the debt limit but who knows what else, and Obama said: not yet.
Differences of perception such as this inevitably result when people like Wagner convince themselves that real negotiations can take place when one of the participants is holding a bomb. While she and her colleagues may be betting that fear of harming lots of innocent bystanders may constrain their bargaining partners to such an extent that they will submit to government by intimidation, she shouldn’t forget that if that bomb does go off, the guys holding it are going to be obliterated.