- - Thursday, September 7, 2017


The Republican Congress of 2017 bears a remarkable resemblance to the New York Mets of 1962, their first year in baseball. The Mets couldn’t hit the ball and they couldn’t catch the ball and succeeded only in showing up for supper. Their manager, Casey Stengel, “the old perfessor,” finally cried out in desperation: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

The owners of the Mets quickly got rid of the imposters, masters only of incompetence, and replaced them with real players and went on to better things. Good riddance is the inevitable fate of all imposters. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, beware, or you’ll take a lot of the imposters with you to the permanent gloom of obscurity.

Donald Trump, who wrote the actual book on “The Art of the Deal,” shocked and amazed Washington and scandalized certain parties on Capitol Hill Tuesday when he turned to the mortal enemies of the Republicans and made a deal with them to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government for the next three months. The legislation includes $15 billion for hurricane relief in Houston (and perhaps a city or cities in Florida when Hurricane Irma finally decides where she wants to go.)

To add further to the humiliation of the Republicans, the Senate passed the agreement on Wednesday. The House won’t have a choice but to agree. The deal is highly unpopular with the Republicans in Congress, and particularly among conservatives. They’re particularly upset that the president didn’t make the Democrats contribute anything from their side of the deal. Nevertheless, the Republican leadership deserves the humiliation, particularly the chagrin of watching the pictures of Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House, sitting in the soft chairs with the president in the Oval Office, wearing smiles of a Cheshire cat with a cage full of canaries at hand.

The two Democratic worthies, who only yesterday competed to say the nastiest things about the president, pushed each other out of the way after sealing the deal to float sweet nothings to and about the president. Mr. Schumer clearly hopes to make the romance last longer than an afternoon delight, and said he hopes the deal can be expanded to include a permanent replacement for DACA, the pending deportation of the Dreamers. Mrs. Pelosi, who thinks she might be the speaker of the House again after all, lavishly complimented the president for his reassurance to the Dreamers that they need not worry.

The concern of the Republicans, particularly in the grass roots, is that they’re being cut out of the game. It’s a legitimate worry. Mr. Trump, given his insatiable appetite for compliments of gush and goo, might well take the kind words from the Democratic leaders as serious sweet nothings, and go back for more.

He should keep in mind that the Republican leaders might well deserve the mess they’ve created, but the rest of us don’t. Mr. Trump has accomplished some things already, but the list of goals not met is a long one. He will continue to need the co-operation of the Republicans in Congress, and the deal he made with the Democrats exposes the weakness of both the congressional leadership and the senators and representatives they are meant to lead.

Many of the Republican members of Congress think they were elected to come to Washington to pursue their own ambitions, to enjoy the perks of office without having to pay anything for them. Voters can punish without mercy such dereliction of duty, and Messrs. McConnell and Ryan must reach deep within themselves to find the skill and discipline to get things done. Excuses are no longer acceptable. They must produce, or get shoved out of the way.

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