The wrong frame at the wrong time

THE WRONG FRAME AT THE WRONG TIME…. I can appreciate how ridiculous House Minority Leader John Boehner looks right now. I can even appreciate the fact that the Republican Party is looking desperately for someone to blame. But the GOP really hasn’t thought this one through.

Several Republican aides said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had torpedoed any spirit of bipartisanship that surrounded the bill with her scathing speech near the close of the debate that blamed Bush’s policies for the economic turmoil.

Without mentioning her by name, Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., No. 3 Republican, said: “The partisan tone at the end of the debate today I think did impact the votes on our side.”

Putnam said lawmakers were working “to garner the necessary votes to avoid a financial collapse.”

But the defeat was already causing a brutal round of finger-pointing. “We could have gotten there today had it not been for the partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House,” House Minority Leader John Boehner said. Pelosi’s words, the Ohio Republican said, “poisoned our conference, caused a number of members that we thought we could get, to go south.”

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the whip, estimated that Pelosi’s speech changed the minds of a dozen Republicans who might otherwise have supported the plan.

On its face, this is comically stupid. House Republicans wanted to vote to prevent a financial collapse, the pitch goes, but the Big Bad House Speaker made them mad with a speech. You can read Pelosi’s remarks yourself — if it strikes you as the kind of speech that’s worth risking the economy over, let me know.

But more important than that is the truly ridiculous frame Republicans are establishing for themselves by using Pelosi’s speech as an excuse for their own failure. The House GOP, for reasons that defy comprehension, has decided to characterize itself as a caucus of cry babies. Worse, they’re irresponsible cry babies who, according to their own argument, are more concerned with their precious hurt feelings than the nation’s economic stability.

It’s a great slogan for the election season, isn’t it? “Vote Republican — We’re More Concerned With Our Feelings Than Your Future.”

Make no mistake — this is a failure of the Republican Party of historic proportions. When push came to shove, the Democratic leadership delivered the votes on the rescue plan, while Republicans voted, 2-to-1, against it.

If they’re going to rationalize their failure, they’re going to have to do better than rejecting the proposal because of Pelosi’s harmless speech.