What Did You Say?

10.09.13

Is John Boehner the Fredo of the House?

Former Disney chairman Michael Eisner said if the government shutdown was ‘The Godfather,’ House Speaker John Boehner would be the spineless black sheep of the family. Lloyd Grove on the eyebrow-raising analogy.

Really? Is House Speaker John Boehner just like Fredo, the Corleone family’s weak-minded, spineless yet wildly ambitious black-sheep brother in The Godfather movies?

That was the argument advanced by former Disney chairman Michael Eisner, a generous donor to Democratic candidates, during Wednesday morning’sSquawk Box on CNBC.

“You have a character like Fredo in The Godfather who’s too weak to go against his own minority, let’s say, and do the right thing,” said Eisner, chairman of Tornante, a media and entertainment investment company, assessing  the government shutdown and debt ceiling battle. “I don’t think the president has a great bunch of opportunities because he doesn’t want to be the first president that actually, in advance, knowingly puts the country in default. At the same time, if he folds to this kind of threat, he is a weak man.”

Referring to the Republican speaker, Eisner added: “And [Obama is] dealing with a weak man who does not have the moral fiber to stand up to a minority in his party and say, ‘Hey, guys…We have to negotiate later. Let’s leave the threats off the table.”

Eisner, who acknowledged that “I’m not saying that the Democrats have handled everything perfectly,” likened the drama in Washington to a gangster movie—an incredible one at that.  “If somebody came to me with a script, i.e. The Godfather and there was a sequel to it about what’s going on in Washington, I would say, ‘This is just fiction. It can’t happen in this country. You can’t put a gun to somebody’s head and say, ‘Now or never.’”

He added: “I have never dealt ever, in 40 years of negotiations in America, with someone coming to me and putting a gun to my head and saying, ‘Do it my way, or you’re dead and your whole family is dead.’…We make movies about it and they’re very popular. It’s just not the way to deal. It’s just absurd, and frankly, shame on Congress.”

The good news, arguably, is that if Eisner’s unusual analogy holds, Boehner will ultimately betray his rabid relatives and collude with the enemy. However, the speaker should probably avoid fishing trips in the future.

After Eisner departed, Squawk Box cohost Joe Kernan, offered this sarcastic riposte: “We definitely had the Hollywood view of politics.”