Listen up, House Speaker John Boehner, that old baseball phrase-maker is talking to you. And to your leader, Eric Cantor, and your whip, Kevin McCarthy.
Two days in a row, you were embarrassed when the House you supposedly "control" refused to go along with your wishes on two relatively easy bills -- one to renew the Patriot Act and one to compel the United Nations to pay back $179 million it got from the United States.
The embarrassments are enough trouble on their face, but what's more important is what they portend for the future, when the really tough issues come up. If you think it's hard to get tea partyers to vote for the Patriot Act (they objected on the basis of invasion of privacy), just wait until you have to persuade them that raising the federal debt limit is necessary.
Remember, they campaigned against that.
Mostly, Boehner's leaders can be faulted for not thinking things through. They brought up both bills under fast-track rules that require a two-thirds majority for passage. The rules are generally used for innocuous things, such as naming post offices.
But this time, they brought up the Patriot Act renewal because apparently they thought nobody could object to that. (Well, maybe some civil libertarian-type Democrats, but they are in the minority anyway.) Not so fast. Somehow, the Republican House leaders failed to read the tea leaves of the tea party.
And as for the U.N. money, the leaders failed to take into account the views of one of their most influential chairmen: Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter T. King of ... wait for it ... New York. Seems the U.N. was using that $180 million for ... wait for it ... homeland security. King sees the U.N. as a targeted time bomb in his city, waiting to go off. Money for security? Well spent.
A bunch of Democrats joined King and some more Republicans to crash that bill as well.
Cantor and McCarthy persuaded many of the new freshman Republicans to run for office in the first place and were elated with their victories brought the GOP to power. But as any veteran politician (not to mention baseball man) will tell you, recruiting is not the same as playing the game.
And if they don't learn how to "play this game," the House is going to be in disarray for many months to come. And don't you think the Democrats know it.
Elaine S. Povich is a veteran Washington reporter.