It’s almost hard to remember that time four months ago when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner were writing op-eds in the Wall Street Journal reveling in their success in the 2014 midterms and promising to prove the skeptics wrong with all they were going to accomplish.
Then reality hit. We’ve seen them:
*Completely bungle their own attempt to tie funding for the Department of Homeland Security to repeal of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
*Politicize the response to negotiations with Iran by not informing President Obama of the invitation to PM Netanyahu to address Congress.
*Fail to over-ride President Obama’s veto of their bill to approve the Keystone Pipeline.
*Send only token support to the 50th Anniversary commemoration in Selma, AL.
*Sign a letter to the leaders of Iran that basically undermines the President’s negotiations.
In the midst of all this, we learned that Boehner doesn’t talk to McConnell and that he basically says things because it’s the “easiest thing to solve his immediate problem.”
All of that helps us understand why a freshman Senator from Arkansas was able to write a condescending letter to the leaders of Iran that was short on constitutional knowledge and get it signed by 87% of the Senate GOP caucus. One has to wonder who’s running the show right about now. It seems as if an awful lot of Republicans aren’t taking any of this seriously when GOP Senate staffers call the letter a “cheeky joke,” and Senator McCain – who signed the letter – now says it wasn’t the “most effective” response.
Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, summed it up this way:
The document was crafted by a senator with two months of experience under his belt. It was signed by some members rushing off the Senate floor to catch airplanes, often with little close analysis. Many of the 47 signatories reasoned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s endorsement was vetting enough. There was no caucus-wide debate about strategy; no consultation with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has studiously followed the nuclear talks (and who refused to sign).
This was a foreign policy maneuver, in the middle of a high-stakes negotiation, with all the gravity and deliberation of a blog posting. In timing, tone and substance, it raises questions about the Republican majority’s capacity to govern.
This is the definition of a party in disarray. And its all happening just as their two frontrunners for the 2016 presidential nomination are starting to throw some elbows at each other. There will be a lot more of that over the next few months.
I say all of this because I think that Sun Tzu was right.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
Or as Fred Kaplan said in an article titled: Amateur Hour:
It is a useful thing when a political party reveals itself as utterly unsuited for national leadership.