Sure, it was completely calculated, pre-scripted and assuredly poll tested. But you have to give a little credit to John Boehner for finally growing the cojones to stand up to the crazies in and out of Congress who have dominated the Republican agenda to tell them to knock off their criticism of the Ryan/Murray budget deal.
You remember Sister Souljah? The racial activist who Bill Clinton called out as the nutcase she was in a 1992 speech to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition? Big Willie caught all sorts of initial hell when he spoke truth to an audience of blue dog democrats about the incendiary hatefulness of Sister Souljah’s race-baiting message. At the time, it was absolutely unheard of for a Democratic candidate for President to utter a peep of criticism of anyone loosely associated to their orthodox, huge tent coalition of every self-identified oppressed/underprivledged wing of the party. This was audacious stuff …. Nixon going to China… Kirk making peace with the Klingons. This was unheard of. And it completely changed the political rules for the Clinton campaign and his perception with moderates, conservative Democrats and centrist Republicans. Here was a leader willing to stand up to the bullies and idea-thugs of his own party to bring back some reasonable, centrist sanity to the political debate.
Okay, so it’s not quite the same thing for Boehner to call out the Cruz/Rubio/DeMint/et al uber cons in front of a bunch of press room cameras as Boehner did this week as he announced the budget deal with Ryan. The crazies went, predictably, ballistic: “Boehner is a RINO!… Ryan is a squish!…” screamed the usual voices. But it was too late. Boehner beat them to the punch and positioned the deal as a solid, conservative, rational compromise that didn’t sacrifice either party’s principles, kept the government open and avoided another fiscal food fight mid-January.
New Rasmussen poll numbers on Friday show that only 7% of likely voters think Congress is doing a good job. That’s not a typo.. 7%… an all-time low. Boehner/sane Republicans could not afford to let another fiscal debacle further erode voters opinion of Congress/Republicans going into a mid-term election (nor could he personally afford another fiasco like the last shutdown). Damn the Heritage torpedoes… Boehner had to change the terms of the internal GOP battle and win this fight before tea party reserves could be called up.
Many pundits are calling this the beginning of a Republican civil war… that the Tea Party conservatives are just warming up… and that internecine warfare is looming for 2014/2016.
Not so fast. While I do think there is a whole lot of navel-gazing sorting out to do within the GOP both for the mid term and the presidential in ’16, this could be a seminal moment for the old guard wing of the GOP (yes, it does still exist) to flex a little main street/wall street muscle. The Tea Party and friends have considerable strength, some money and no fear of primarying squishy Republicans. Their circus act also gets a disproportionate amount of air time and focus. But for the first time in a long time there is a glimmer of both sanity and backbone emanating from mainstream GOP congressional leaders who recognize their unwinnable ways if they stay in Cruz control.
Let’s hope for the sake of rational, reasonable, responsible, centrist leadership that they keep fighting. Stay strong, Sister Speaker.
- John Boehner Crushes The Tea Party — But Can He Do It Again? (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Speaker Boehner lashes out at conservative groups (latimes.com)
- Boehner’s Outburst Fuels GOP Civil War (pjmedia.com)
- Boehner Blasts Conservatives As Tea Party Hits New Low With Voters (miami.cbslocal.com)
- Boehner Grows Some (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- Boehner Takes on Critics on His Right (abcnews.go.com)
- The Republican schism (news.muckety.com)
- Conservative Groups To Boehner: You Want A War? You Got It. (personalliberty.com)