Quotes of the day

The schism at the heart of conservative politics in the US was laid bare on Thursday when John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, launched a stinging attack on the collection of rightwing lobby groups that hold sway over the fundamentalist wing of the Republican party…

Boehner’s comments suggest that moderate voices in the Republican party now feel emboldened to speak out against the strategy embodied by Tea Party-backed figures such as Ted Cruz, the firebrand Texas senator who advocated the shutdown in a failed attempt to hobble President Obama’s healthcare reforms…

It has been no secret that Boehner felt bounced into the shutdown strategy by the right of his party, but this is the first time the schism has burst into open, and suggests moderate Republicans have been emboldened by the failure of the shutdown strategy and the sight of someone with the conservative credentials of Paul Ryan leading compromise negotiations.


Relations were further strained when Republican leaders on Wednesday fired high level staffer Paul Teller, who often served as the liaison between members of Congress and outside activists.

“It’s sad that this conflict has broken out into full-scale civil war, but this moment has been festering for years,” wrote Daniel Horowitz, the policy director of the Madison Project, a conservative group that has sought candidates to challenge Republican incumbents in primaries, in a statement. “There can be no reconciliation between those who seek power for power’s sake and those who seek to serve in order to restore our Republic.”…

“They were just out to get rid of him in a declaration of war on conservatives which is really, really stupid,” Bozell said. “They’re trying to intimidate conservatives and this one is going to backfire on them.”

“They’ve now made it personal,” he added. “It is now a personal attack on conservatives.”


“To me, it’s like Christmas came earlier in December than it normally does,” said Steve LaTourette, a former Ohio Republican congressman and Boehner friend who runs a Washington lobby shop.

“It’s really just a byproduct of the fact that he’s a very patient fellow and his fuse was a lot longer than a lot of other people’s, including mine, that he’s run out of patience,” said LaTourette, who also heads the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of establishment Republicans for whom compromise is not a dirty word but a necessity for a governing party.

LaTourette’s reading of the situation is that Boehner, wanting to let his caucus express its will, allowed the hard-liners to steer the ship of state for a while even though he disagreed with their full-steam-ahead approach — an approach that led to a government shutdown. He hoped they would learn from the experience of crashing into an iceberg.

This week suggested they hadn’t.


A spokesman for Heritage Action defended the organization’s opposition to the budget plan in an interview with Yahoo News, and predicted trouble for Republicans if they continue to alienate conservative groups.

“I’m certainly surprised that they’ve chosen this fight to lash out against conservative groups. This is a deal that increases spending by $63 billion over the next two years. This is not a conservative deal,” said Dan Holler, communications director for Heritage Action. “Members are going to have a difficult time when they go back home explaining all this to their constituents. I’m sure there are a lot of members who are in uncomfortable positions and would rather see outside groups remain silent about this, but that’s irresponsible. … Signaling to conservatives that they’re not part of the GOP dynamic — I don’t see how that works out well, long-term or short-term.”


What explains the Republican establishment’s newfound bravery when it comes to tangling with the tea party? Two big things:

1) The tea party is at historic lows in terms of public opinion. In new Gallup polling, just 30 percent of people view the movement favorably; even one in three self-identified conservatives say the dislike the tea party. Condemning unpopular things is, you guessed it, popular.

2) There’s safety in numbers. McConnell threw the first stone. But now that other prominent figures within the party are coming forward to say, essentially, enough is enough, it’s now become less politically risky to add your voice to that chorus…

This is why we have elections. Republican primary voters will get a series of chances to show which side of this fight they come down on. But make no mistake: The fight is now joined in earnest.


Via Gallup.



It was clear from the beginning that the shutdown would be a political nightmare for the Republican Party, but Boehner still went along with it. The same dynamic exists now, but there are five important differences between now and October that changed the incentives for his decision…

3. The House GOP Majority is secure. Back in October, the greatest threat to the Republicans’ House majority was not from the Democratic Party. It was from a nasty, intra-party civil war that dragged Republicans through the mud. Now, after the catastrophic Obamacare launch, there is no way at all that Republicans lose the majority. No matter how nasty the GOP civil war gets, the majority is secure. That gives Boehner little reason to listen to the Tea Party.

4. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already started that war. Even if Boehner wanted to keep the party unified, it would be very difficult from him to do so as McConnell has already made it clear that he is ready to go toe-to-toe with the Tea Party. The minority leader is not looking to defeat only his primary challenger, Matt Bevin, but he wants to decisively win back control of the party by making the 2014 Republican primary an establishment-versus-Tea Party battle. Boehner can do nothing to stop it…

Boehner is now fully incentivized to take on these conservative groups. Recent developments with Obamacare and the Republican party have placated any fears he has about the consequences of a GOP civil war. Undoubtedly, he long ago was fed up with these outside groups, but held his tongue knowing that lashing out at them would only make things were. That political dynamic no longer exists. Boehner is ready to join McConnell in the 2014 war for control of the Republican Party.


For the first time since they took back the House in 2010, a strong majority of Republicans have rejected the political absolutism encouraged by the professional right that mired Congress in gridlock for years and culminated in a government shutdown this fall…

Conservatives have already begun a hard pivot to the 2014 elections

“There’s nothing I can I can do at this point to gin up support for the Republican Party within the conservative base,” Bozell said. “At the end of the day, I think Republicans are going to rethink this or what you are going to hear is the sound of doors closing all over America.”…

“The solution here is for conservatives to work together to replace these Republicans in the primary elections with true conservatives,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. “This is why the 2014 primaries are so important. If conservatives rise up, they can regain control of the party. If they stay home, the establishment will remain in power and continue to help the Democrats enact their liberal agenda.”


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