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DECEMBER 21, 2011 12:39PM

John Boehner Operating on Borrowed Time?

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boehner  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 red

Since 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.

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Great analysis. John Boehner is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is essentially a moderate who is exactly whom we need to cut deals. In other words he finds common ground or that dirty word, compromise. Unfortunately this is the Tea Party era for Republicans and he is beholden to them. You are quite correct that they are a Koch Brothers instrument. Eric Cantor's taking over of this wing and undercutting Boehner at every turn for the sheer ambition of it is despicable. Cantor can taste the Speakership and will pull out any stop to get it. He is one of the most un-patriotic men I have seen in Washington D.C. in a long time. Boehner would have served better as Speaker in the 90's when politics was much more sane. In this environment, the Tea Party tail is wagging the Boehner dog. Great article.
Great piece!!! The Republicans and John Boehner and Eric Cantor are making fools of themselves and the electorate is so on to them. Like the Rev. Al Sharpton says, "You become very unpopular, when you do unpopular things" and the House Republicans and the rest of the right-wingers are doing very unpopular things on a daily basis. I can't wait for election time it's going to be so rewarding to see all the liars lose their seats to the democrats. R
I can't think of a more deserving guy than Boehner. Since the advent of Reaganism in 1980 the G.O.P. has presided over the collapse of our nation as a manufacturing giant, as a world moral leader, as a shining star of freedom to the world and they have based it all on the misguided notion that they with all of their tax cuts and deficits are somehow conservative. Individual liberty is the only thing they appear to be conservative about. They expanded government at an exponential rate creating huge new federal bureaucracies and unfunded mandates. They conspired to spend a trillion dollars on wars based on lies, that they knew were lies to begin with and the American people swallowed those lies whole. Welcome to a world run by Henry F. Potters.
terrific piece if he is going out i do not want that sniveling jr hi kid Cantor in that seat
Great analysis of the issue. Mr. Boehner has been out of step with the Tea Party members from the inception. Being replaced by one of the obstructionists can't make matters worse and will just make their goals that much more transparent. R
If Boehner weren't so horrible, I'd feel sorry for him.
Good analysis. While I certainly haven't been impressed with Boehner, I think that Cantor would be much worse - the modern incarnation of the Know Nothings.
Very informative. I think you are right: his days are numbered. Rated.
Let's hope the entire Republican party gets ousted by the voters.
Until recently, I thought it was the Democratic Party where being a leader was more akin to herding cats. But that was before the Tea Party. Now there are nearly as many different kinds of Republicans as there are Democrats and that spells trouble for Boehner because all Republicans look backwards characteristically, and by consistent political nature, for ideas of how to lead or manage policy. Without any creative means for changing tactics all they have left to them is to dig in like stubborn toddlers with their various divergent legs kicking in the air. So, even though they know it was a disaster for them in the mid 1990's, they repeat ad nauseum the same strategies that had them shut down the government for five weeks. The same results coming at them like a freight train, and they can't do anything but shriek like Natasha lashed to the tracks. Really, it's so much like the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show. Tragic. We need some grown ups in charge.
They're all scary bastards.
Very interesting and informative read for a Canadian who is outside the frame. Thank you.

Rated♥
Nice assessment! So if Boehner is unseated would that be the shortest Speaker career? Probably not, but perhaps in recent memory at least. I'm a bit tossed up in my personal predictions on this matter...will Boehner be unseated by his own party or by the Democrats retaking the House? Given the GOP's very low approval ratings the latter appears quite possible. If the former is true, I have to agree with you Cantor will be orders of magnitude worse, driving Congress deeper into gridlock.
Just ignore the lonely old cranky man ole Gordy, he's very unhappy and lonely so he never has anything nice to say about anything or anybody.....I give him the STATUS OF A BEDROOM SLIPPER ON A GOOD DAY!!!!!!!! Great truthful and very accurate post my friend