Is John Boehner (R-OH) long for his job as Speaker of the House? Is he an example of the Peter Principle in politics, which is to say that he's reached the point of being ineffective? This man, the 3rd in line to the Presidency may be on his last political legs.
If events of the last 6 or so months are any indicator, there's a darned good chance that he may be ousted by his own party. It's likely that Mr. Boehner's memory of being ingloriously tossed from his last leadership role, that of the House Republican Conference Committee chariman in 1998 for being Newt Gingrich's right-hand man when Gingrich was himself tossed out of Congress is weighing heavily on him - so much so that he has acquiesced to putting his party ahead of his country once again, in order to keep his job, rather than take a principled stand. The party which decries even the smallest tax increase on its source of political sustenance, Big Money, yesterday signaled that it's ready to hand one to the very people it depends on for votes – the declining middle class and the rapidly growing numbers of former members of it. Boehner, who is no neophyte at politics, is no doubt aware of this.
John Boehner has a long history in Republican politics. One of 11 children reared in what can be charitably called modest circumstances, his rise to the speakership was the culmination of over 20 years laboring in the Republican House vineyard. He has always been a dependable soldier for GOP causes and considers his work in getting George W. Bush's “No Child Left Behind” Act passed into law as his crowning achievement in politics.
Boehner's fortunes have risen, fallen and risen again as the GOP took over the House for the first item in 40 years in 1994, lost it a couple of times and then regained it spectacularly in 2010. When then-Majority Leader Tom Delay was forced to step down in 2006, Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Boehner both made a play for the job and Boehner won it handily, which of course positioned him for the Speaker job when the GOP took over the House of Representatives last November with the help of the Tea Party and folks like Dick Armey - and a sizable passel of corporate money men like, most notably, the Koch Brothers.
It ain't easy being redSince becoming Speaker, however, Boehner has had an ongoing problem with rounding up his party and getting them to act as a single entity, something that can be called Job No. 1 of any Speaker of the House. The Tea Party wing of this House, bent on the destruction of the President, has continually been a thorn in the side for the GOP lifers in the House who, like Boehner, have learned and practiced the art of compromise.
Last summer, when the Republican-led House was unwilling to bend an inch on budget talks and came within a hare's whisker of once again shutting down the entire machinery of government, Boehner was unable to guide his caucus to a satisfactory deal in time to prevent sparking a downgrade of the credit rating of the United States of America for the first time in its history.
The most recent GOP House caucus's rejection of a Boehner sponsored 2-month extension of unemployment insurance and payroll tax relief for 160 million Americans literally blindsided the Speaker and the GOP Senate members, who thought that Boehner's word that he had the votes was golden. It wasn't. GOP Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell's well documented “high five-ing” with a senate colleague after having put the 2-month extension deal together with Boehner has turned into a “facepalm.”
And now the tittering is beginning. Is Boehner toast as Speaker? Waiting not-so-patiently in the wings is Eric Cantor of Virginia, who is no stranger to to political ambition and, even more interestingly, is aligned in almost every way with the stupid wing (read: Tea Party wing) of the GOP.
Ready, fire, aim!Just as the President is stepping up the contrasting of himself and his party with the 3-year long obstinacy and obstructionism of the GOP, and which is beginning to pay off in the steady rise in his numbers, the Republicans seem to be choosing kamikaze tactics for 2012. Some have called the GOP strategy “overreaching.” Others believe Boehner has run his political gas tank down to empty in his inability to herd the cats in his party. Even if Boehner is ousted in January of '13, or even earlier, his likely replacement, Cantor, will be orders of magnitude worse than the present Speaker in detaching the GOP from the majority of voters.
What is becoming increasingly obvious is that the GOP is hardly a unified whole and seems to be pulling itself apart like two continental plates. The larger of the two, the radical conservatives of the Tea Party movement seem to have center stage.
John Boehner may have become a victim of his own party once again.