February 13, 2011

Sunday School 2/13/11: John Boehner, David Gregory play dodge ball

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) chatted with David Gregory on NBC’s Meet the Press. They talked about Egypt, a concern that radicals don’t end up in charge, and that he, as well as others in Washington, was surprised by what transpired over the past few weeks. On the budget, he believes the House Republicans have met the promise to cut $100 billion in their first year in charge, as promised in the Pledge to America (even though it took some pressure from Tea Partiers and other freshmen to get there). When pushed by Gregory if the cuts are too much for the fragile economy, Boehner answered “David, David, we’re broke…When are we going to get serious about cutting spending?”  He also indicated that there’re more coming, including defense and entitlements, and that there’s “no limit to the amount of money that our members want to cut.”   

And then things got interesting. Gregory pressed Boehner on why he doesn’t stop talk from his party that President Obama wasn’t born in America or that he’s a Muslim, when Boehner himself is comfortable that neither of those two statements is true.  

Gregory: “As the speaker of the House, as a leader, do you not think it's your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?” Boehner: “David, it's not my job to tell the American people what to think. There's a lot of information out there, people read a lot of things...”

Gregory: “I mean, you are the leader in Congress and you're not standing up to obvious facts and saying, "These are facts.  If you don't believe that, it's nonsense."” Boehner: “I just outlined the facts as I understand them.  I believe that the president is a citizen.  I believe the president is a Christian. I'll take him at his word.”

Gregory: “But that kind of ignorance about whether he's a Muslim doesn't concern you?” Boehner: “Listen, the American people have the right to think what they want to think.  I can't--it's not my job to tell them.”

Gregory: “You shouldn't stand up to misinformation or stereotypes?” Boehner: “...But I've made clear what I believe the facts are.”

Gregory: “But is it because it weakens the president politically, it seeks to delegitimize him that you sort of want to let it stay out there?”  Boehner: “No.  What I'm trying to do is to do my job.  Our job is to focus on spending.”

So, spending, in the eyes of the Speaker, is only about dollars and not about sense?