Boehner: On second thought, let's not compromise with Obama

Remember what he told NPR over the weekend? Quote:

“I think the American people want us to find a way to work together to address the concerns that face the American people every day. We’re going to drive for a smaller, less costly and more accountable government here in Washington, D.C.,” Boehner says. “And to the extent that we can find common ground in that direction, I would welcome it.”

Judging by the reaction of HA commenters at the time, I’m guessing he got an earful from grassroots righties about that over the past few days. Now, suddenly — change of plans:

“This is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you that we will not compromise on our principles,” Boehner said during an appearance on conservative Sean Hannity’s radio show…

“I love Judd Gregg [who recently said that repealing ObamaCare isn’t a good idea], but maybe he doesn’t get it,” Boehner said Wednesday in a rebuke to Gregg, the top Republican on budget issues in the Senate who’s set to retire at the end of his term in January. “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.”…

“To the extent the president wants to work with us, in terms of our goals,” the Ohio Republican explained, “we’d welcome his involvement.”

I’m not sure whether those two statements are all that fundamentally different. In both cases, he’s open to “compromise” so long as it means Obama bending to the GOP’s designs on shrinking government. In fact, even Grahamnesty’s latest call for bipartisanship is more conservative-flavored than his usual pap. I think:

“My belief is that, if we get back power in the House, and get close in the Senate, that we ought to really clamp down on spending and reform the government,” Graham said on WVOC radio in South Carolina. “But we ought to not put ourself in a position of being the ‘party of no’ to hard problems. But we ought to sit down with the president and work on Social Security, come up with an energy policy without cap-and-trade.

“There’s plenty of things that we could do on job creation by challenging President Obama to come to the middle, and find ways to move us forward as a nation, and put the burden on him to say no to us,” added the South Carolina Republican…

“One thing I think we ought to do, other than blocking his agenda and controlling spending, is trying to solve a hard problem like Social Security,” he said. “And if we show our willingness to work with him on that, I think that would be well-received by the American people.”

I’m trying hard to imagine a scenario where Democrats and Republicans would get cracking on, of all things, Social Security reform right before the all-out war of another presidential campaign. No one’s going to cede the senior vote by making any drastic (read: serious) proposals, so I take it Graham’s choice of this example is his way of trying to sound reasonable knowing full well that there’s no chance he’ll have to act on it. Social Security as a top congressional priority starting in, say, January 2013? Sure, maybe. Social Security as a top priority next January? Nope.

Exit fun fact from tonight’s new NYT poll: “[W]hen given the choice, 78 percent of respondents said they believed Republicans in Congress should compromise some of their positions to get things done and 15 percent said they should stick to their positions even if it means getting less done. Similar percentages said they wanted Democrats to choose compromise over principle.” So there’s the first hint of an endless political battle to come: Which party will do a better job in 2012 of convincing voters that the other side is the one who’s being obstructionist?