In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review early this week, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio compared the financial regulatory reform package to "killing an ant with a nuclear weapon." This comment triggered a barrage of Democratic criticism, some of it coming from the White House. The political response was so quick and intense that Boehner is now striking back at Democrats for being eager to capitalize on the remark.
- 'It Really Was a Ridiculous Metaphor,' writes The New York Times' Gail Collins. "The financial reform package is actually more like killing a mastodon with a small spear. Could work, but not the sort of weapon you’d want to count on for every occasion." She adds that Boehner "looked burned-out in the interview, like a sullen college student sitting through a boring seminar. A very tanned, puffy-eyed, 60-year-old college student." She pulls a quote from MSNBC host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough suggesting "Boehner had the work ethic of a sullen college student as well," constantly at bars. She ends by deriding his seeming ignorance of the fact "that the deep-water drilling moratorium only involves deep-water drilling."
- Another Ridiculous Thing From That Interview The Guardian's Michael Tomasky picks up on Boehner's comment that Democrats "are snuffing out the America [he] grew up in." Says Tomasky, "Boehner was born in November 1949. Let's take a look at the America he grew up in." At the time, "the top marginal tax rate on wealthy earners was 90% ... private-sector union membership was around or above 30%," and " the country had a president--a Republican president--who believed [that] ... 'Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.'" Said president dismissed the "tiny splinter group" advocating such moves, composed largely of "a few Texas oil millionaires," as "negligible and ... stupid."
- 'He Can't Be That Out of Touch,' was President Obama's response to the ant simile at a town hall in Racine, Wisconsin. "This is the same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly eight million jobs. The same crisis that cost people their homes ..." He suggests Boehner visit Racine, and appeals to inhabitants: "do you think the financial crisis was an ant and we just need an ant-swatter to fix this thing?"
- You're the 'Ones Out of Touch,' responded Boehner to the criticism. "The American people want us to deal with the economy and jobs. And what have [Democrats] dealt with? They've dealt with health care. They've dealt with cap and trade. And then they've gone overboard with financial regulatory bill. Growing the size of government, taking more from the American people at a time when Americans want them to focus in on the economy."