Pomp, Politics, and Pink Slips

Boehner speaks at the City Club of Cleveland on Aug. 24 Mark Duncan / AP

Ohio has lost 400,000 jobs in the last year and now Rep. John Boehner suggested here today cutting two more people from the nation's payroll: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House Economic Advisor Larry Summers. "We keep hearing about green shoots (in the economy) but they never seem to grow," Boehner told a breakfast crowd of business boosters at the Cleveland City Club on Tuesday morning."They're defending the indefensible. They say the economic team is exhausted and two of them already have left." President Barack Obama should fire the other two, Boehner said.

Admittedly, it's a slow news day. Congress is in recess, Obama is on the Vineyard, so reporters such as yours truly find themselves in Cleveland to witness one of those shopworn campaign ploys in action. Boehner could care less about who's advising Obama and knows that voters could care even less. But calling for someone's head is always worth a 'graph or two in a wire story.

Boehner will also provide fodder for press room questions at the White House. You can almost here them now. "Does the president have full confidence in..." And the answer will be yes, of course, because to say otherwise would be to create a story when there isn't one.

If the economy and jobs are central to this election -- and they are -- and if the key question is whether the president and the Democrats made the right economic decisions -- and it is -- then the identities of Geithner and Summers are beside the point. What matters is what voters think about two people: the president and the speaker. (Sen. Harry Reid may be the third, but he is shielded somewhat by his ineffable colorlessness).

Boehner knows all this; he was looking for a semi-headline.

Substantively (I bring up substance warily), Boehner knows or should know that Geithner and Summers are the only guys in Obama's inner circle who actually are willing, even eager, to listen to Boehner's beloved "business community." Many in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party view them as closet members of the Chamber of Commerce -- not to mention defenders as business-as-usual for banks and Wall Street.

Now that would be real news: Boehner begs Geithner and Summers to stay! But if was being true to his school -- and the spirit of bipartisanship he says he yearns for -- he would.

Pomp, Politics, and Pink Slips | U.S.