In the midst of the government shutdown, John Boehner has relinquished his role as Speaker of the House, opting instead to portray a quasi Captain Ahab.
Ahab, in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," was the tyrannical captain of the Pequod and he is driven by a pathological obsession to kill the white whale. Ahab's desire to destroy Moby Dick brings about his own death, along with that of the crew, save a lone survivor.
Boehner seems destined to repeat this tragic narrative; and America's economic standing in the world along with it's people do not seem to be a price that is too high to pay for an ill-conceived and ill-fated mission rooted in megalomania.
There is one stark difference between Ahab and Boehner. It was Ahab's obsession that overcame the crew of the Pequod that led them to follow their captain into the abyss of disaster.
Boehner, however, appears to be led by a faction of Republican House members so certain that the virtue of their position rests solely in their domain that they are unable to consider any facts to the contrary.
Earlier this year, Boehner told conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, "If we were to put Obamacare in the CR (continuing resolution) and send it over to the Senate, we were risking shutting down the government. That is not our goal."
Moreover, Boehner contends the current shutdown is the result of Democrats' unwillingness to sit down and negotiate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offers a different narrative, one that Boehner himself confirmed on national television last week.
This past summer, Boehner and Reid reached an agreement on a clean CR without the Affordable Health Care Act involved that was $70 billion below what the Senate wanted.
But, according to Boehner, he and his members reneged because "the threat of Obamacare was so important that it was time for us to take a stand."
Boehner told also ABC's George Stephanopoulos there were not the votes in the House to pass a clean CR. But, according to CNN, there are the bipartisan votes to pass a clean CR -- 218 to be exact.
What's the harm of bringing up a clean CR for a vote? If nothing else, the American people will know where every member of the House stands. It's called transparency.
In the hypersensitive media climate to be perceived as fair and balance, it may be acceptable to suggest the government shutdown is the result of the two political parties unable to come together, but the facts clearly show something different.
Assuming the issue is indeed the Affordable Care Act, there is an undeniable irony in that the party that so often claims we're a nation of laws has conveniently found the exception to the rule.
The irony is worsened because a cabal of government employees have taken it upon themselves to shut down the institution sending 800,000 employees home, rendering an additional 1 million who are working without pay, and prohibited the families of fallen soldiers from receiving the benefits they are entitled so as to prove a point.
Their arrogance blinds them to the cyclical nature of history. Would those who support the current shutdown feel the same way should Democrats conduct similar in the future?
Though they have broken no laws, how are these antics not treasonous to the American spirit?
The problem ultimately lies with Boehner. He is either unwilling or unable to stand up to the Republican faction in the House that is committed to holding the nation hostage.
Like Ahab, he is in pursuit of something that he does not fully comprehend. But history may prove Boehner to be the more tragic character. At least with Ahab, his catastrophic pursuits were of his own making.
Contact Byron Williams at 510-208-6417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.