They wanted to try to defund ObamaCare, even if it meant a shutdown, so he tried to defund ObamaCare even if it meant a shutdown. It was never going to work, everyone knew it, and Boehner went ahead with it anyway. If he had followed “don’t blink” any further, it might well have meant hitting the debt ceiling and sparking a crushing new economic downturn for which the GOP naturally would be blamed.
Now they’re going to turn around and fire him? Nope.
“I don’t think Speaker Boehner has anything to worry about right now,” said Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), a conservative who refused to vote for Boehner in January.
Speaking at an event with fellow conservatives, Labrador said he was “really proud” of Boehner’s handling of the fiscal crisis and that, over the last 2 1/2 weeks, “he has been the kind of Speaker I’ve been looking for for the last 2 1/2 years.”…
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told The Hill, “Conservatives feel like he’s fought the good fight. … You can quote me on that.”…
“There is absolutely no talk of anything along those lines. No talk,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee who frequently opposes leadership proposals.
So whom do the tea partiers blame, if not Boehner? You guessed it: The RINOs.
“Actually I think the speaker stood up and said ‘this is what we’re going to do.’ I remember at conference on Thursday he said ‘there’s only one way out of this, and that’s to win.’ Well, that’s not the way it ended up,” says Representative Tim Huelskamp.
“But it’s pretty hard when he has a circle of 20 people that step up every day and say, ‘can we surrender today, Mr. Speaker? Can we just go away? Can we make it easy?’ I mean, whining and whining. I would say surrender caucus, but it’s a whiner caucus. And all they do is whine about the battle, as if they thought being elected to Washington was going to be an easy job,” he says.
Fun fact: Even though there were surely at least — at least — 30 centrist Republicans who knew the “defund” strategy was headed nowhere and wanted to avoid the needless pain of a shutdown, they stuck with Boehner and the tea partiers on floor votes throughout. Whether that was out of party loyalty, loyalty to Boehner himself, or abject fear of being primaried (although in that case, why would they dare criticize tea partiers vocally like Peter King and Devin Nunes did?), the fact remains that a real RINO revolt would have given House Democrats’ discharge petition a fighting chance. It never happened. If anything, grassroots centrist Republicans who never believed “defund” could win have a lot more to be angry about with the RINOs in Congress than grassroots conservatives do with Boehner or House tea partiers. For all their talk, King, Nunes, and the rest of the RINO 30 (or 40/50/100) never tried to build a serious counterweight to tea partiers, which is the only thing that would have given Boehner cover to pronounce this whole thing pointless before the eve of Debt Ceiling Day. They couldn’t do it, whether for reasons of fear or complacency. Which, actually, makes me sort of agree with what Huelskamp says about “whining.” If you’re going to grumble about tea partiers taking over the party and endangering the country but you refuse to vote against them for fear of losing your seat, maybe spare everyone the self-congratulatory blather about how high-minded you are.
Here’s Boehner’s statement this afternoon confirming that the House GOP won’t try to block the Reid/McConnell Senate bill. “We fought the good fight,” he told Bill Cunningham. “We just didn’t win.” The more rounds of phony brinksmanship we go through, the more I think Boehner is a perfect compromise choice between righties and centrists in the caucus insofar as he’s too far to the center to do anything really radical, like hit the debt limit, but he’s sufficiently captive to tea partiers to engage in a pantomime of radical action every once in a while. Then, when it inevitably fails, tea-party members of the caucus can blame the RINOs rather than Boehner for having thwarted them, which is good for their own conservative cred. And RINOs get to exhale and tell themselves with that not too much damage has been done by Boehner’s tactics — certainly not enough to jeopardize the House majority next year. It’s an odd, uncomfortable arrangement, but it works. If you define “works” loosely. The only compelling reason to oust him isn’t because he’s a RINO or because he panders to tea partiers, it’s because he’s … just not that good at negotiations:
If you walk into a car dealership and offer a deal that’s rejected without any counter being offered, you don’t keep unilaterally raising the price you’ll pay. Car salesman have a word to describe a person who does that: sucker. Don’t walk into a car dealership unless you’re prepared to walk out. And before you walk in, you had better know the walkaway price demanded by your spouse.
In short, Boehner’s constant negotiating foibles have eliminated his ability to be an effective negotiating partner with Obama and Reid. He lacks the trust of his caucus, he and his leadership team of Cantor and McCarthy are incapable of counting votes, and Obama and Reid don’t respect him as a negotiating partner.
That’s from Sean Davis, who calls on Boehner and his top deputies to resign and make way for a shrewder negotiating team — which would be fine, if not for the fact that that means a death struggle within the caucus over whether the next Speaker should be a bona fide tea partier or another establishment figure. Can a new odd, uncomfortable arrangement be reached, or would that mean a deeper schism? Exit quotation:
Sense from talking to House GOP about Boehner's surrender: Tea Party blame the moderates, moderates blame the Tea Party, Boehner unscathed
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) October 16, 2013