- J. Scott Applewhite/ap photos
- John Boehner (pictured on Capitol Hill today) could learn a few things from Dan Rostenkowski.
Watch it and weep. Media Burn, the video archive, has posted online a clip of Dan Rostenkowski, the Chicago Democrat who was then majority whip, welcoming his party’s newcomers to the House of Representatives in 1981 (watch it after the jump). The leadership’s job, said Rostenkowski, who’d already been in the House 22 years, is to spare you the distress of having to vote on any bill “that will embarrass you, that will certainly cause you some concern with respect to getting reelected.”
Up to that point, John Boehner would be with Rostenkowski word for word.
However, Rostenkowski went on, “But you know, the game is compromise. That’s politics. . . . You know, there are sometimes concessions that one has to make in order to get a program through.”
In that simpler time, the opposition—which Democrats opposed but sometimes compromised with or even conceded to—was the other party, the Republicans, led by the new president, Ronald Reagan. It wasn’t a terrifying insurgency that threatened apostates with defeat not in the next general election but in the next primary.
And of course there was a program for the House majority to try to get through, which requires compromise, rather than a philosophy of rejecting everything, which doesn’t.