The unnecessary (and unwarranted) condescension

THE UNNECESSARY (AND UNWARRANTED) CONDESCENSION…. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) talked to ABC News yesterday, and struck a tone that I’ve heard him use before. In every instance, it rankles.

The topic was the bipartisan deficit commission, which was appointed by the president and issued a controversial report late last year recommending tough spending cuts, tax reforms and reforming Medicare and Social Security.

“While I didn’t agree with everything they did, there was a lot in their proposal that was worth of consideration. And what did the president do? He took exactly none of his own deficit reduction commission’s ideas. Not one. Come on! It’s time to grow up and get serious about the problems that face our country,” Boehner said.

Substantively, Boehner, who’s never been much of a policy guy, is just wrong. Obama didn’t endorse the Simpson-Bowles plan, but he did borrow from it. Indeed, the leaders of the bipartisan deficit commission that Boehner is suddenly interested in had positive reviews of the president’s debt-reduction plan — which is more than we can say about their take on the House Republican proposal.

But the Speaker’s confusion over details is routine. What’s troublesome here is Boehner’s condescending attitude. He’s not just urging the president to agree with the GOP’s misguided agenda; Boehner is also suggesting that Obama needs to “grow up.”

And that’s stupid to the point of being offensive.

About a year ago, the American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein, not exactly a raging leftist, said John Boehner and his team “are becoming the Bart Simpsons of Congress, gleeful at smarmy and adolescent tactics and unable and unwilling to get serious.”

The criticism was well grounded at the time, and it’s even more appropriate now. What has Boehner been spending his time on lately? Leading a caucus that has wasted time on health care bills they know they can’t pass, abortion bills they know they can’t pass, climate bills they know they can’t pass, and budget bills they know they can’t pass. Boehner’s caucus has also invested considerable energy in recklessly accusing Muslim Americans of disloyalty and going after NPR.

He’s also found time to nearly force a government shutdown and hold the debt limit hostage.

Sure, John, lecture us some more about the need to “get serious about the problems that face our country.”

I won’t speculate about why, exactly, the Speaker feels the need to be so condescending towards the president, but I find it pretty offensive to see Obama try to clean up the mess Boehner and his party created, only to have Boehner talk about the president as if he were some sort of child — as if the easily confused Speaker is the grown up, and the president who actually knows what he’s talking about needs a stern talking to.

It’s ridiculous. I don’t expect Boehner to have nice things to say about President Obama, but “grow up” should probably be dropped from the talking points.