By Tom Prezelski
Re-blogged from Rum, Romanism and Rebellion
Lets make it clear that, contrary to the impression one gets from
MSNBC, Speaker John Boehner is not a hapless idiot. He is a politically
savvy and sincerely pragmatic guy who suffers from the lack of good
material in his caucus. While he is no Sam Rayburn or Henry Clay, he is
also no Andy Tobin, and under slightly more favorable circumstances, he
might be known as a competent manager of the legislative process. One
does not get to be in his position by being a doofus.
What has had MSNBC personalities particularly animated over the last 24 hours is the possibility that Boehner may invoke the so-called “Hastert Rule” regarding the immigration bill
and increasingly strident rhetoric from The Professional Right on the
issue. The concern is that the House will either pass its own bill, or
amend the Senate bill to the point where it is unrecognizable. This,
they believe, will kill the possibility of reform, a notion based on a
misunderstanding of the process.
you are wondering why Rep. Gutierrez is still smiling, it is because
there is another possibility for what is going on here. While there has
been plenty of talk about the phony “Hastert Rule,” there has been
little talk about the only real rule in the Congress or any bicameral
legislature, namely that both houses have to pass the same bill for
legislation to move on to the President’s desk. If the House and the
Senate pass different bills, there will be a conference committee to
reconcile the differences. The Speaker can let the Tea Party have their
fun and pass their bill, while making sure that they have nothing to do
with the subsequent conference.
The bill that passes out of the conference committee will probably
resemble the Senate version more than anything that comes out of the
House. At this point, Speaker Boehner can simply pretend that the whole
thing is now out of his hands and let the thing go to the floor for a
vote, where it can pass with a bi-partisan majority.
The scenario assumes three things. The first is that Speaker Boehner,
being the pragmatic Chamber of Commerce type that he has always been,
deep down really wants to pass legislation of substance and fix the
immigration system. The second is that he is willing to roll over the
Tea Party types, which is something he has done before. Finally, and
here is the safest assumption of all, it counts on the fact that the Tea
Party types are so obsessed with the beauty of their dubious ideas and
the sound of their own voices that they will not notice what is
happening. Considering that these preening exhibitionists are generally
unconcerned with passing legislation, this last one is quite plausible.
This is all terribly arcane and messy, and it can be fairly argued
that much of this is unnecessary and perhaps silly. Some old saying
about laws and sausage is apropos here.
Of course, I could be wrong about all this, but if it goes down this
way, you owe me lunch. There are some new places on Congress that I want