Congressman Barney Frank is a witty guy. When California Republican David Dreier was passed over for a House leadership position, the openly gay Frank was asked whether he thought this was because Dreier was “too moderate” or because of persistant rumors about Dreier sexual preferences. His reply?
“[Dreier] didn’t get it because he was moderate. And I’m going to a moderate bar after work.”
Frank is Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and led the push for the bailout bill. Immediately after the bill’s failure, House Republican Roy Blunt (R-Tobacco) pinned blame on Nancy Pelosi, claiming that her “partisan floor speech” drove 12 Republicans to vote against it instead of in favor as they had promised him. An aide to the Speaker called it “absurd,” adding that “you don’t vote on the speech, you vote on the bill.” Further, none of the 9 Republicans who made floor speeches after Pelosi even mentioned hers, nor did any other Republicans complain besides Blunt.
And so back to Barney Frank, who looked the final roll call and did the math:
“One of the truly great coincidences in the history of numerology. The number of deeply offended Republicans who put feeling over country turned out to be exactly the number you would need to reverse the vote.”
Frank is right. Twelve is the perfect number for a political trick. Without the dozen alleged Pelosi defections, the final 205-228 failure becomes a perfect 217-216 pass (with one abstention.) Had Blunt blamed the Speaker for any number less than this, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome anyway. Had he cited a large number like 20 or 30, it wouldn’t have been believable since no Republicans actually cited her speech as having influenced their votes.
I’ll make a conjecture: Blunt straight-up lied. Does anyone honestly think that 12 Republicans switched to “no” votes on a seemingly urgent bill supported by their House, Senate, and White House leadership because mean aunt Nancy hurt their feelings? Blunt looked at the final tally, realized it was a lost cause, and threw out a magical number.
Today, Blunt backed away from his whiny-ass bullshit. It’s possible he felt like a fool being called out. It’s also possible that he realized his political mistake. It’s a much easier sell for Democratic leadership to pin the bill’s failure on obstructionist Republicans than for Blunt to blame a 1-minute floor speech no one saw. Even without a cue, Americans are blaming the GOP by a 2-1 margin. Explains why fatty Blunt has moved back to the bi-partisan blah blah blah he was carrying on before…
Oh, and I’m with everything Digby said.