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Elliot: What's up with our friendly GOP?

BY BEAU ELLIOT | JUNE 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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So what’s up with Republicans? I wonder as a thunderstorm rages through — well, over, technically — Iowa City and the sky turns that black-green color that never means anything good.

(I remember that sky color well from April 2006, which I understand sounds very much like the Paleozoic to many of you. We had a tornado on April 13 of that year, which turned some of our fair city into something less fair.)

But what is up with Republicans? Or down with Republicans. It’s always hard to get your directions straight when it comes to the GOP.

Well, for many of us, it’s hard to get directions straight even when Republicans are nowhere in sight.

I speak, of course, of the fiasco otherwise known as the farm bill. (Yes, I know — “farm bill.” Roll over and hit the snooze button. Which I would do, except that I don’t happen to own a snooze button, which makes it difficult to hit it. Hitting is probably overrated, anyway. I look at the Red Sox lineup recently, and hitting definitely seems to be overrated.)

But the farm bill. It contained many things, including a provision to allow tightrope walkers to wander over the Grand Canyon. (OK, that’s not exactly true. It just seems as if it should be true, because it’s actually impossible to read all the items in the farm bill without wanting to hit the snooze button.)

What happened with the farm bill is the House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in the House, promised he would get it passed. By hook or by crook or by Sandy Hook, or some such something.

But a measure in the bill cutting the food-stamps program (which, in the mysterious ways of Washington, has a much fancier title — the Nutrition Assistance something something something — but let’s face it, it’s the farm bill) enraged Democrats, so they, for the most part, voted against the bill.

What killed the bill were the 25 percent of House Republicans, mostly associated with tea-party leanings, who voted against it, despite the best efforts of Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. The vote was 234-195.

Cantor immediately blamed the Democrats for the defeat, to the surprise of no one but the chipmunks on the Capitol grounds. But you don’t have to be a mathematics professor to do the arithmetic. (You don’t even have to be a math graduate student.)

If the House GOP leadership guys can’t hold their own party together, that means the House can’t get anything done. Unless, of course, said GOP leadership can garner some Democrat votes — which it can’t do if it includes such items as drastically cutting funding for food stamps.

(Did I mention that the sky is a sickening green-black color and the rain is pouring down sideways? Fitting.)

That food-stamps cut was a sop to the conservative Republicans, who voted against the bill anyway.
Meanwhile, Gallup reports that the public-approval rating for Congress has fallen to 10 percent. Well, pinch me sideways; I’m extraordinarily shocked.

Well, not as shocked as learning the Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez is a person of interest in a homicide investigation, and Celtics’ coach Doc Rivers is heading to Glitter Town, and the Red Sox are trying to kick away first place.

(Actually, that last doesn’t shock me at all; the Red Sox continually try to kick away first place, and they so often succeed. It’s kind of like having tornadoes in Iowa.)

So, what’s up with Republicans?

Or down. Or sideways.


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