Washington’s professional pols happy to travel in times of crisis 

What if House Speaker John Boehner made this announcement:

“The House will remain in session until further notice. Members are requested to forego all recesses and weekday travel to and from their districts until a 2012 federal budget is signed into law with a comprehensive plan to balance expenditures and revenue, reform safety-net entitlement programs, set a schedule to eliminate the national debt and insure the military security of the United States.”

Boehner could have transformed Washington, D.C.’s budget debate and put himself and his Republican Party in the driver’s seat. And President Barack Obama could have entered into serious negotiations with the House Republican majority, taking a credible step toward bringing about that “post-partisan” politics he promised in 2008.

What we got instead was another demonstration that they still don’t get it.

After warning us repeatedly that the country faces catastrophic consequences by failing to raise the debt limit and confront the government’s massive deficits, our leaders kept acting as if nothing is different.

Obama delivered a misleading attack on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan at George Washington University, then boarded Air Force One to begin a nationwide speaking tour, including some serious face time with high-dollar campaign donors in San Francisco.

Boehner headed to Pakistan with a bipartisan delegation of House colleagues because “a strong U.S.-Pakistan relationship is vital to the interests of both of our countries.”

So, Mr. President and Mr. Speaker, while you traveled, how much deeper into debt did the country fall?

Most Americans want no more business-as-usual from their leaders. People have had it with the talk; they want the partisan games to stop and real decisions to be made now.

Here’s something else professional pols don’t grasp: Thanks to the Internet, people see through politicians’ nonsense in real time.

As USA Today’s Susan Page said earlier this week on the problems facing a lackluster GOP presidential field, “The profusion of websites and bloggers means issues are raised, circulated and scrutinized with a velocity that’s unprecedented.”

So here’s the bottom line for Boehner and the GOP: In the Internet age, you change the political dynamic by acting, not by talking.

As for Obama and the Democrats: If they want to negotiate seriously, they should call the Republicans’ bluff, stay in town and invite C-SPAN to televise the negotiations.

Mark Tapscott is the editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott’s Copy Desk blog at www.washingtonexaminer.com.

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