I predicted earlier today that House Speaker John Boehner will not survive as speaker in the next Congress. Our publisher Scott McKay brought this column in the Washington Post to my attention on Facebook. Marc Thiessen argues that Republicans would be foolish to try to remove Boehner over the DHS bill.
Now news reports indicate that some Republicans are so mad at Boehner that they are talking about ousting him as speaker. For what? Being insufficiently suicidal?
They have placed Boehner in an unwinnable situation and are mad because he is trying to navigate it intelligently. The fact is there is no way for Republicans to win this fight unless the courts bail them out. The only winning strategy is for the GOP to buy time for the courts to reverse Obama’s unlawful action on immigration, just as they reversed his unlawful recess appointments last year.
Conservatives are right that it is pathetic that we need to rely on the courts to check Obama’s lawlessness. There was a time when members of both parties would have united to defend the constitutional prerogatives of Congress. Today, just eight members of the Senate Democratic caucus are on record opposing Obama’s executive action on immigration, and only four of those didn’t filibuster a stand-alone bill sponsored by moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to block it.
It’s hard to argue against Thiessen here. The Democrat Party in Congress put partisanship over separation of powers, that’s not in question. The Republican caucus in both houses stood united against Barack Obama’s executive amnesty. If conservatives were judging Boehner’s performance solely on this issue, there would be no credible argument for removing John Boehner as speaker.
But, John Boehner has made many blunders in the eyes of conservatives since he became speaker. One of the constant refrains we hear from supporters of the GOP establishment is “we promise to fight harder next time.” When “next time” arrives, there is an excuse for not winning or even fighting. Conservatives feel used and betrayed whenever the leadership engages in what Ace at Ace of Spades has called “failure theater.”
There is also the perception that John Boehner is more passionate about defeating conservatives than defeating Democrats. Here’s a clip of Boehner back in December 2013 when he pushed through a budget plan that gutted the sequester, which succeeded in reducing spending. Boehner’s passionate rant was targeted not at Democrats, but at fiscal conservative groups that opposed it.
Ask yourself this when was the last time Speaker Boehner was this passionate about defeating Democrats? Now, I understand conservatives pushed some dumb ideas to confront Democrats since 2011, such as the “defund Obamacare shutdown.” But, if you’re perceived to be more aggressive against your own side than against the other party, that will sour relations within the caucus.
Also, Speaker Boehner has failed miserably at outreach to conservatives. Speaker Boehner mostly doesn’t speak at conservative events. Another idea on outreach that Speaker Boehner can try is having conference calls with conservative bloggers and engage in a Q and A session with them. Boehner and other establishment Republicans forget the people who knock on doors, make phone calls, and otherwise bust their asses to help get them elected.
All of this leads us to the DHS funding stand off over Obama’s executive amnesty. A blind man could’ve seen that Harry Reid would filibuster any attempt to defund DHS. Boehner would’ve been better off being honest with conservatives that this plan was not likely to succeed. Instead, we went through this charade with the predictable result. No wonder why conservatives are angry.
In politics, you can’t forget the people who brought you to the dance. As a result, John Boehner will lose his speakership at the end of this Congress. The sad thing is, with better communications and outreach skills, this would’ve been entirely avoidable.