Boehner Forever

Jim Newell has a good piece on John Boehner’s future:

But if we’re talking about how much power a Speaker assumes his or her self in setting priorities and leading negotiations on major legislation, rather than keeping out of the picture and handing the reins off to his committee chairman, Boehner has already chosen the role of a “strong” Speaker. He takes it upon himself to keep the GOP conference united and personally negotiate the details each time these would-be “Grand Bargain” opportunities arise, even though he’s clearly not very good at it.

So as of now, Boehner will go down as a weak Speaker assuming a strong Speaker’s job. And it may be that he’s locked in this role. Trying to be more effective in moving bipartisan pieces of legislation—by, say, trying to attract Democratic votes—wouldn’t bother him so much ideologically, but may lead his conference to decide it no longer wants him as Speaker. And he has very little interest in allowing that.

Jim thinks Boehner will remain speaker, and he’s probably right. Nobody else wants the job, because either you’ll compromise and get RINO’d out of the job, or you’ll come up with plans C, D, E and F, all of which will be withdrawn at the last minute, making you look like an ass.






66 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Boehner has Pelosi-envy, which is leading him to attempt things that are outside of his competency.

  2. 2
    lol says:

    you’ll come up with plans C, D, E and F, all of which will be withdrawn at the last minute, making you look like an ass.

    Not that I disagree with this scenario but this sort of embarrassment has hardly proven an impediment to teatards in the past.

  3. 3
    Schlemizel says:

    There is no hope of finding a sane Republican in the House today. Given the spinelessness and perfidity of those who Blew Dogs it would be difficult, even for Pelosi, to pass good legislation. The GOP is broken and damaging the nation. The only good thing about their controlling the House is that it makes their insanity obvious

  4. 4
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    I wouldn’t blame Boehner so much. Look what he has to work with. A coach trying to win football games with 1/3 of his team made up of soccer players isn’t necessarily a bad coach because he can’t execute plays. A big fraction of Orange John’s caucus just isn’t interested in governing.

  5. 5
    WereBear says:

    Delusional idiots get the Speaker they deserve.

  6. 6
    redshirt says:

    There was some interesting chat the other day about the possibility of Pelosi re-gaining Speakership due to a split vote amongst the Republicans.

    I know this is unlikely, but what if? How would she actually lead the House from the Minority? She’d control the agenda, regardless of the numbers, right? Now, I’m sure nothing would get done, but! Fun to think about.

  7. 7
    lol says:

    I don’t think you need to find any moderate Republicans to pull off a coup – just power hungry ones. Make one of them speaker and the rest committee chairs. It wouldn’t mean anything for passing effective legislation, but it would pretty much end the sideshow witch hunt investigations.

    Lieberman was pretty liberal on most issues but for him, it was about ego and control. He would be an asshole just because he could so the attention and power would be on him. Much the same way John McCain has never remotely been a moderate; it was always about sticking it to the man that beat him in the primaries.

    So we’re not looking for the Republican version of Blue Dogs, we’re looking for the Republican house equivalent of Joe Lieberman. Those teatards that got bounced from committees by Boehner would be a good start because they might be willing to ally with Pelosi if it means spiting Boehner.

  8. 8
    Todd says:

    @WereBear:

    We are headed directly to a situation where the gerrymandered House makes itself irrelevant, as the other branches pick up the slack of governing.

    There is a precedent, sadly.

  9. 9
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @lol: #7

    Those teatards that got bounced from committees by Boehner would be a good start because they might be willing to ally with Pelosi if it means spiting Boehner.

    Oooh! That sounds interesting.

    Got names? I can add them to my list of sometimes-slightly-sane Republican representatives that I harass.

  10. 10
    Todd says:

    PS – it is going to help if everytime we talk about the House, we repeat the term gerrymander.

    The institution is illegitimate as a result of the gerrymandering.

  11. 11
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Nobody thinks that weaselly little fucker Cantor wants it?

  12. 12
    JPL says:

    A friend and I have a wager. IMO, Boehner will not work with the democratic party and he will allow all taxes to rise on January 1. She thinks he will deal. Boehner’s ego is to large to compromise. The wager is fifty dollars to the candidate who will run against Scott Brown.
    Merry Christmas, Mr. Boehner and I’d love to be a fly on the wall watching you celebrate.

  13. 13
    amk says:

    If 10% of the repubs are sane enough to caucus with the dems ….

    What am I thinking?

  14. 14
    Waldo says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Don’t know if he wants it (at this moment, anyway), but Cantor is the leader they deserve. He’s the captain who will back up the ship and continue ramming the iceberg.

  15. 15
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @JPL:

    Boehner’s ego is to large to compromise.

    Assuming Boehner has the votes to compromise. Boehner’s really not the issue here. His insane clown posse caucus is.

  16. 16
    redshirt says:

    I don’t see anyway the House deals with Obama on his terms on anything, regardless of the situation. Thus, if Obama wants anything to get done, he’ll have to compromise, and thus the Firebaggers will shout “WORSE THAN BUSH!”.

    It’s an awesome dynamic.

  17. 17
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Oh, Cantor wants it — but on his terms. With a GOP Senate, and a GOP president if possible.

    But not while there’s the need to compromise with the other parties in any deals. Gingrich had a GOP Senate to cover his flanks, however much they let him down on impeachment.

  18. 18
    quannlace says:

    either you’ll compromise and get RINO’d out of the job, or y

    All too true. For the more rabid tea-partyish of the GOP, anyone who isn’t willing to trash the country in the name of ideology is a traitor. Yup, they actually use that word. Over in Freeperland there was an article about Chris Christie running in 2016. They couldn’t slam him and throw RINO around fast enough.
    This just amazes me. God forbid they consider a candidate that might appeal to a broader swath of voters.

  19. 19
    Corner Stone says:

    @redshirt:

    I don’t see anyway the House deals with Obama on his terms on anything, regardless of the situation. Thus, if Obama wants anything to get done, he’ll have to compromise

    IMO, this is pretty well understood. It’s the “what” that is important. What exactly is put forth to compromise on?

    And I’ll just pre-emptively reiterate again that Social Security has absolutely nothing to do with these discussions. So I hope the pre-lim scuttlebutt was 100% wrong.

  20. 20
    The Tragically Flip says:

    I’d like to see more analysis of what exactly gave Pelosi the higher degree of control over her caucus. Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich managed to control the Republican shock troopers – just as crazy as today’s versions. What is different now? I suspect Boehner’s problem is that he doesn’t have control over the informal party system – fundraising committees, wingnut welfare assignments. He can’t ruin a member who spites him, and he can’t put one on the gravy train for sticking with him on a tough vote.

    That’s probably much more the difference between a “strong” speaker and a “weak” one – more than any personality thing, or the ideological extremity of the members.

  21. 21
    Corner Stone says:

    For a guy who was handing out checks on the House floor a couple years ago, you’ve come a long way Boehner.

  22. 22
    redshirt says:

    @The Tragically Flip: I think the Repukes are crazier now than in the 90’s. Heck, crazier now than in the mid 2000’s. They get crazier every election.

  23. 23
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @redshirt: Maybe. But in Gingrich’s day they shut down the federal government out of spite because Gingrich didn’t like his AF1 seat assignment. Dan Burton was shooting watermelons in his fucking yard to “prove” something something Clinton murdered Vince Foster. It could be that the median craziest member is now crazier than then, but the maximal crazies were present and a force to be reckoned with even then.

  24. 24
    GregB says:

    David Fucking Gregory is letting LaPierre dominate the entire conversation.

    What a fool.

  25. 25
    dmsilev says:

    @The Tragically Flip: Pelosi has a long history of being a very effective fundraiser for the rest of the caucus; that’s where a lot of her power comes from. She’s also a lot better at balancing the demands of the different wings of her party than Boehner is. Which, given how much more diverse the Democrats are than today’s Republicans, says something about how bad Boehner really is at his job.

  26. 26
    redshirt says:

    @GregB: I’m shocked. SHOCKED! That an intrepid, hard nosed journalist like Dancin’ Dave would let a high powered right wing lobbyist dominate his show.

    Truly shocked.

  27. 27
    jeffreyw says:

    Boehner’s four hours are up.

  28. 28
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @redshirt: it’s because they used to worry that being too crazy and obstructionist would cost them their next election. Now they realize that doesn’t really happen, and that there are enough voters who’ll vote for them regardless of what they do that there’s no need to project competence or thoughtfulness or grown-up-ness at all, ever.

  29. 29
    Waldo says:

    @GregB: Gregory’s probably afraid Wayne’s packin’. He’s probably right.

  30. 30
    redshirt says:

    @The Tragically Flip: Good points, but it feels as if the very ground has changed. In that, lying is accepted. Outright obstructionism is accepted. Blowing up precedent is accepted. I feel like we’re in a far more dangerous and vulnerable place with these wingnuts now than in the height of Clintonmania. Subjective feeling, though.

  31. 31
    Gex says:

    @redshirt: They are distilling down to a perfect 27%.

  32. 32
    Shalimar says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I think Cantor has a much larger base of support among Republican House members than Boehner does, so it is his whenever he wants it. This has been true for at least the last 18 months though, so there is obviously some reason he doesn’t want to be Speaker right now and nothing is likely to change that in the next two years.

    From what I have seen, Cantor doesn’t want power just for the sake of power (unlike a Rove or Delay). He is a true believer who wants to destroy the government’s ability to act in ways he disapproves of (Medicare, Social Security, pretty much any other program which helps moochers, etc).

  33. 33
    GregB says:

    It’s a classic case of dominating an argument.

    At least LaPierre has a gross white fleck of foam in the right corner of his mouth.

    Literally foaming at the mouth.

  34. 34
    The Tragically Flip says:

    In support of the “they’re just that crazy” theory, this piece shows that Boehner has come a long way in fundraising and ground game institutional support, yet not seen that pay off in increased caucus control.

    Pelosi is still a fundraising demon, which is mostly why she kept her top job (or at least, why she wasn’t even challenged for it).

    Now I’m wondering if there’s an asymmetry here. Boehner can be a great fundraiser, but I think Republicans just view that as an “expected” part of the job for their leaders – they have rivers of money, anyone mildly competent should be able to tap it. Pelosi is viewed as a rarity on the Democratic side – anyone who replaced her almost certainly wouldn’t be as effective, while anyone replacing Boehner would be expected to do so.

  35. 35
    Baud says:

    Boehner’s ego is writing checks his caucus can’t cash.

  36. 36
    Schlemizel says:

    @lol:

    The odds are very high they would be unemployed after 2014. Primaried out of a job by the teatards that currently own the party.

    Say what you want about the crazy bastards they show up to vote when it counts. Every member of Congress knows it and that keeps any potential GOP ‘Lieberman’ in check.

  37. 37
    dr. bloor says:

    @RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist:

    Trying to be more effective in moving bipartisan pieces of legislation—by, say, trying to attract Democratic votes—wouldn’t bother him so much ideologically, but may lead his conference to decide it no longer wants him as Speaker. And he has very little interest in allowing that.

    This is why I have less than zero sympathy for Boehner. He has a way out that would allow him to do some actual governing, but he declines that option in favor of continuing the longest running episode of Eunuch with a Gavel in the history of Congress.

    Earl Weaver, venerable manager of the Baltimore Orioles, used to say that during any given season, a third of the guys in his locker room loved him, a third hated his guts, while a third didn’t give a shit either way, and his job was to keep the third that didn’t care away from the third that hated him. Earl Weaver is in the Hall of Fame.

  38. 38
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @jeffreyw:

    Then he should consult a doctor.

  39. 39
    srv says:

    He’s like the Yasser Arafat of the Republican Party. Everyone will keep talking and negotiating with him as though he’s really relevant to any real decision making.

  40. 40
    Cermet says:

    If any one is dumber than Blow hard Boehner, than it is Mitt’s Romney son, Tag the wimp who could only – while safe hiding with reporters – threaten the President with violence.

    In this unbelievably stupid but typical for a lazy given everything loser statement this dumb ass stated: “Tagg Romney tells the paper: “He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run.”

    UFB – since his loser father lost big time to the Socialist Kenyan vote fixer, the whole sour grapes is the ass-licking coward’s explanation on why his incompetent father lost – no ground game, bought his way through the primaries, lying daily and total chicken hawk thug just for starters… .) Funny – just need some more entitled thug spawn to grow up this stupid and run for office. SWEET.

    Need to read the ‘Salon’ article to really see how stupid the thugs and their 27% of voters has become.

  41. 41
    Schlemizel says:

    @Cermet:

    I think at least 53% of the voting public wanted a Rmoney Presidency less than Willard did.

  42. 42
    cmorenc says:

    @RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist:

    I wouldn’t blame Boehner so much. Look what he has to work with. A coach trying to win football games with 1/3 of his team made up of soccer players isn’t necessarily a bad coach because he can’t execute plays. A big fraction of Orange John’s caucus just isn’t interested in governing.

    The analogy works far better if it’s a soccer coach trying to win soccer games with 1/3 of his team made up of football players with little interest in developing real soccer skills. It’s also one seen far more often in real-life at the high school varsity level in areas where soccer is a boy’s spring season sport, and the result is some quite ugly soccer where the football players use thuggish physicality to compensate for their lack of skill. Many of these players get more pleasure in knocking opponents down than in attempting to play anything resembling the “beautiful game” itself.

  43. 43
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Another piece supporting the “they’re just crazy” theory.

    I guess having the carrot of a fundraising machine won’t be enough for Boehner, unless he can neutralize the stick that Tea Party primary challenges represents. The caucus crazies fear their local crazies more than they fear him.

  44. 44
    dr. bloor says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    The caucus crazies fear their local crazies more than they fear him.

    They should. That gerrymandering can really bite you in the ass sometimes, I guess.

  45. 45
    Chris says:

    @Cermet:

    In this unbelievably stupid but typical for a lazy given everything loser statement this dumb ass stated: “Tagg Romney tells the paper: “He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run.”

    LOLOL. Mittens wasted a decade of his life professionally running for president, and now that the shiny toy has well and truly passed beyond his grasp, he can’t find anything better for a face-saving maneuver than “I NEVER wanted it ANYWAY!”

    What a fitting end to this truly pathetic man’s career in politics.

  46. 46
    shortstop says:

    Pelosi’s fundraising skills are legendary and obviously the fount of her power, but I wouldn’t underestimate her interpersonal skills in her success. She knows how to count a vote because she and her whips really know the caucus. Boehner has a crush of wild animals on his side of the aisle, but I still have trouble understanding why he brings stuff to a vote when he clearly doesn’t have the numbers.
    Closing your eyes and jumping,
    hoping you might hit the little spot of water amid all the jagged rocks, is not generally a good management strategy.

  47. 47
    shortstop says:

    @Cermet: Nice continuation of the entire campaign’s brilliant strategy of assuming that anything they say, no matter how objectively ridiculous and how much it conflicts with their previously observed actions, will be obediently swallowed by the public. It’s like no one in that family has ever been out of the house.

  48. 48
    cmorenc says:

    @Shalimar:

    From what I have seen, Cantor doesn’t want power just for the sake of power (unlike a Rove or Delay). He is a true believer who wants to destroy the government’s ability to act in ways he disapproves of (Medicare, Social Security, pretty much any other program which helps moochers, etc).

    A big part of the dynamic is that post-2010, the hard-right conservatives genuinely believed they had a window of realistic opportunity to effectively dismantle the entire legacy of the New Deal and other federal government structure that’s evolved since Roosevelt, including even the dismantlement of social security and medicare over a couple of decades’ time. The tax cuts and huge debt run up under George Bush’s Administration during a period of GOP control of both houses were not simply an instance of irresponsible government (though that too) but a quite deliberate design to sabotage the long-term financial sustainability of the federal government. Paying off the national debt with federal government spending balanced and accumulating a surplus was actually a nightmare to them, had it been realized, because unsustainable deficits are an essential practical tool giving them leverage to slash and burn.

    They were confident they could beat Obama in 2012 and replace him with a compliant Romney and a GOP senate majority to go along with the House. The fact that the 2012 election not only momentarily crushed their dreams, but discomfortably revealed a demographically changing electorate moving dramatically away from them over the next couple of decades did not, however force them to give up their dream, since they still had the house and the debt ceiling. They are determined to still go after their dream of destroying the federal government, even though it must be in much more incremental fashion, by holding chunks of it hostage to debt ceiling votes every several months.

    Obama is effectively attempting to negotiate with ideological terrorists, with whom there is never any possibility of a good-faith bargain. Their whole goal IS destruction of most of the federal government outside defense, and any agreement by Obama and the dems to ransom hostages now will only lead to the GOOPers taking more hostages and repeating the cycle until there’s nothing left to ransom them with.

  49. 49
    lol says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Oh, they’re not slightly sane but they have been slighted.

  50. 50
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Boehner is certainly qualified; he’s already an alcoholic, which I think would be required to lead the GOP.

  51. 51
    patrick II says:

    Nobody else wants the job, because either you’ll compromise and get RINO’d out of the job, or you’ll come up with plans C, D, E and F, all of which will be withdrawn at the last minute, making you look like an ass.

    Agreed. But it is more than that. Boehner is the perfect dupe for the tea party. They use him as front man to pretend to be partners in governance while they undermine everything he does. He is too stupid and enamored of his title to give it up even while being screwed by his own party.

  52. 52
    Matt says:

    I dunno – at this point, I think it’s bizarre for the President to even *attempt* to deal with Boehner. He’s demonstrated that even a bill that was too far right for the President to sign couldn’t pass his caucus, so why should *anything* he says in further sham-negotiations be taken seriously?

  53. 53
    WaterGirl says:

    @Chris: Mittens had not desire to RUN for president, he just wanted to BE president. So Tagg’s statement is true.

    Edit: Which isn’t to say that the statement by Tagg doesn’t make both Tagg and Romney look like idiots.

  54. 54
    WaterGirl says:

    @shortstop:

    …but I still have trouble understanding why he brings stuff to a vote when he clearly doesn’t have the numbers.

    I think it’s because the republicans can’t be taken at their word. They thought they had the votes in the afternoon, but the big guns and shot callers were phoning the republican reps all afternoon telling them to vote “no”.

    Their previous “yes’ to Boner means nothing to them. I’d say Boner needs to learn to call a vote the second he thinks he has the votes, and not wait until evening.

  55. 55
    geg6 says:

    @WaterGirl:

    Rock and a hard place (heh) for Boner. If he brings it to a vote and it fails, he would have no choice but to resign as speaker. It would be a fatal blow to his career and (to believe what I’ve read the last few days about him having hallucinations of going down in history as one of the truly great Speakers) his legacy would be as a truly failed Speaker. Sadly, I think Boner doesn’t realize yet that that particular ship has sailed.

  56. 56
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @patrick II: Darn it I want entertainment, I want either Michelle Bachmann, Steve King or Louis Grohmert as Speaker. Hell nothing will get done anyway. But we might as well enjoy the next two years as this country collapses into irrelevancy. Hail the new Chinese century.

  57. 57
    Maude says:

    @geg6:
    Spellcheck will show Boner for Boehner. heh.

  58. 58
    shortstop says:

    @WaterGirl: But I don’t think he ever had the numbers. Plenty jumped ship during the afternoon and early evening, for sure, but in my understanding it wasn’t a sure thing even before that. There doesn’t seem to be any way to read this other than Boehner was going to close his eyes and hope he squeezed through.

  59. 59
    WaterGirl says:

    @shortstop: One possible way to read this? Cantor, I believe, was the one who said they had the votes. Did you see the smug cat-at-the-canary look he had on his face when he was supposedly humiliated because they didn’t have the votes after all?

    I think it’s possible that Cantor is playing both sides of this. He doesn’t want the speaker job now, no smart person would, because whoever is heads this republican caucus is going to look like a fool. But this weakens Boner, so whenever Cantor feels like the time is right, he can probably put the word out and get a vote.

  60. 60
    JustAnotherBob says:

    Possibility:

    No deal.

    Taxes rise.

    Republicans vote to lower taxes. Trading away a lot of what PBO wants in order to seal the deal. Overall there are spending cuts.

    That gives them the ability to return to their districts and report that 1) they did not vote to raise taxes (kept their pledge) and 2) lowered spending along with taxes for almost all.

    Now they need to be sent back to Washington to finish the job of lowering taxes for all and further cutting spending.

  61. 61
    efgoldman says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    I can add them to my list of sometimes-slightly-sane Republican representatives that I harass.

    No, actually, you can’t. Boehner bounced them because they were too far off the reservation even for him to tolerate. Committee chairmen are supposed to support the leader of the party, no matter what they really think.

  62. 62
    efgoldman says:

    @Todd:

    The institution is illegitimate as a result of the gerrymandering.

    Then every House since 1812 is illegitimate. Its never been done to the extent its done now, because the sophisticated software didn’t exist before, but you can’t blame the tool.

  63. 63
    Joe Buck says:

    Obama should refuse to negotiate with Boehner because Boehner can’t deliver. Perhaps he should demand that the House send the chairmen of the relevant committees instead, and let them meet with Obama’s deputies instead of with Obama.

    Boehner’s been playing the car salesman game. He negotiates with the customer but claims no power to make a deal; everything has to go to the mysterious boss in the back room. That’s fine, but he’s clearly not on the same level as the president, because while Obama can pledge to accept a proposal and to sign the bill, Boehner can’t get the yahoos in his caucus to agree to any compromise at all. So kick him out; talking to him is a waste of time.

  64. 64
    James E Powell says:

    @Joe Buck:

    The calls for Boehner to step aside and someone else do the negotiating should come out the day after Christmas. But they have to come from people outside the White House. Loud Democratic congress-creatures should suggest it. Pundits should report that “some Republicans” are talking about it.

  65. 65
    James E Powell says:

    @Joe Buck:

    The calls for Boehner to step aside and someone else do the negotiating should come out the day after Christmas. But they have to come from people outside the White House. Loud Democratic congress-creatures should suggest it.

  66. 66
    James E Powell says:

    @Joe Buck:

    The calls for Boehner to step aside and someone else do the negotiating should come out the day after Christmas. But they have to come from people outside the White House.

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