Via WaPo, skip to 9:50 or so for the key bit. I’m mighty curious to see if our fair and impartial media, who assured us for years that Obama was a soft-partisan “pragmatist,” will dismiss this as hysterical wingnuttery when commentators on the left, right, and center have all made similar points in the last few days.
“[G]iven what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me and should be clear to all of you that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans,” Boehner said. “So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me tell you, I do believe that is their goal. To just shove us in the dustbin of history.”
I made that point myself recently vis-a-vis gun control. It makes no sense for Obama to push an assault-weapons ban which he knows is doomed and which will only cause headaches for red-state Democrats in the Senate except as a pure public-opinion cudgel against the GOP. Make Senate Republicans filibuster it or have the bill die in the House and then hope that the ensuing burst of calculated outrageous outrage from Democrats about failing Our Children prepares the way for a Democratic takeover in 2014. The Times posted a piece this morning about how, realistically, a second-term president has maybe one year to get something big done before the politics of the midterms and the next presidential election ties his hands, but Obama, I suspect, takes that as a challenge. He defied political gravity once before by becoming the first black president, then defied it again last year by somehow winning reelection despite a relentlessly crappy economy throughout his first term. His ego’s sufficiently gigantic that no doubt he thinks he can force the GOP to take one unpopular stance after another until 2014, leading to a Pelosi restoration in the House and then lord knows what miserable “grand legislative achievements” in 2015 and 2016. (Cap and trade? Serious gun control?) One of his stooges dismissed the GOP a few days ago as a party unworthy of “the opportunity” this moment presents to do something important on the debt or gun-grabbing or whatever. That’ll be the refrain for the next two years — the Republicans are unworthy and need to be punished. And in fairness to the White House, a lot of Republicans seem to agree. (Take the survey!)
By the way, note who Boehner’s audience here is. It’s the Ripon Society, a famously centrist Republican group that takes its mission as “representing all Americans through moderate, progressive policy formation that uphold traditional common sense Republican principles.” Why is he tossing red meat about O wanting to annihilate the GOP to a group like that? Because: It’s not really red meat. What he’s doing here is making the case for the Republican caucus to stick together (hint hint, tea partiers) and not do anything too drastic before 2014 that might imperil the party’s chances at holding the House in the midterms — like, say, refusing to raise the debt ceiling. He’s basically calling for conservatives to trust the leadership and remain unified as The One does his darnedest to break the party into pieces. Republicans can’t achieve much now in a post-reelection environment, but they can take solid first steps that increase the chances of achieving something important later.