Littwin: Boehner breaks free

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]re you kidding me?

John Boehner goes all Travis Bickle on the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. And he not only beats them (at least for now), he annihilates ’em.

Are you kidding me? A 332-94 vote for a bipartisan budget bill? The only thing more shocking would have been if the unstoppable Broncos had scored only 20 points against the Chargers.

Yes, the budget deal was smallish and kick-the-can-down-the-roadish and lousy for liberals and, I guess, not all that great for conservatives, but it was that rarest of modern-era Washington commodities — a compromise.

[pullquote]The Tea Party wing is a different world, and Boehner finally got up to the nerve to walk away from it — and the great majority of House Republicans followed him.[/pullquote]

But it wasn’t just a compromise. It was a compromise with a kick — in the butt, or somewhere near there. This is what Boehner has been wanting to do for months, for years, ever since the Koch Brothers and the Heritage boys and Club for Growth and Ted Cruz and the rest of Team Purity had marginalized him and humiliated him, not to mention what they’ve been doing to the rest of us. (See: farm bill and food stamps.)

If you haven’t seen the Boehner clip — and the Vine of the clip — you need to. Here’s the link.

And, if you’ve stopped chuckling, here’s the rest of his pre-vote news conference, in which he said the conservative groups had lost all credibility, had shut down the government for no reason, were strong-arming Republicans into hurting their own cause, had opposed the bill before they even saw it. If it sounds like Harry Reid could have written the speech, well, that’s where Boehner has ended up.

It was a complete throwdown. It was Boehner, famous for his un-speaker-like cool, blowing up. Which has to be better than the government blowing up, again.

We knew how this was going to end. There was not going to be another government shutdown so soon after the last one. It’s one thing to be self-destructive and another to write yourself a suicide note.

What’s shocking is how we got here. If I were of a conspiratorial bent, I’d think that the Koch brothers were giving Boehner cover to compromise. They even offered up Paul Ryan as a level-headed representative of the unlevel-headed wing of the party.

But we know better. The only thing these guys hate more than compromise is to compromise with Barack Obama. If Obama was for it, they were against it, whatever it actually was. And if Boehner had to be humiliated again, wasn’t that part of the fun?

Logic doesn’t play a role here. The Obama/Obamacare obsession is where this begins and ends. It’s a different world, and Boehner finally got up to the nerve to walk away from it. And the great majority of House Republicans — nearly three-fourths of them — followed him. And if they’re “movement conservatives,” which most of them are, all the movement this time was away from intransigence. It was an actual nod toward, you know, governing.

And in a move that spoke nearly as loudly as the budget vote, the Republican Study Committee — a House group which basically studies how to be as conservative as possible — fired its longtime director, Paul Teller, because he was seen as being too close to outside groups like Heritage, which now, it seems, really is an outside group.

And so, the bill passed overwhelmingly. And the sound you hear from Washington is gears unlocking.

A few liberals voted against the bill — because they could. It was going to pass anyway, and this was a vote to express dissatisfaction with the unacceptable slashing of benefits for the longterm unemployed. And then were the hard-line conservatives who voted against the bill. They included Cory Gardner, who keeps burnishing his Tea Party bona fides. Mike Coffman also voted against it, but he explained in a statement that his problem with the bill was the busting of the Pentagon spending caps.

The question now is what happens next. The answer, of course, is nothing soon. The House is closing shop for the rest of the year. And in case you were thinking comity had come to Washington, the Senate is currently in 24-hour session as Republicans, who lost the ability to filibuster nominations, are trying all the other tricks to slow down the process.

But soon, there will be another showdown. Boehner wasn’t going just for a win on this vote. He was looking for a knockout.

Team Purity’s strength is twofold: It’s got money and it’s got true believers. We’ve seen the threats — and the reality — of primaries for conservative senators who occasionally make a bid for independence. When the bill gets to the Senate, you can expect those senators who are being primaried — like Mitch McConnell — to vote against it. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have come out against it. Rand Paul calls it “shameful.” The GOP civil war is hardly over.

But Boehner is now definitely in the fight. And this time at least,168 House Republicans had his back.


  1. Sorry, but I just can’t get a whole lot of sympathy up for Boehner. He is the WORST, weakest speaker of the house in history. He lets himself be run around by a freshman senator, someone not even in his damned part of the government. He lets himself be run around by freshman members of the house when HE is supposed to be the leader. He has proved that being a DRUNK in power is NOT a good thing.

    Sorry, NO sympathy at all. He has none for any American out of work, needing help or health care, I REFUSE to give him anything more than he offers anyone else. He is a national DISGRACE. To find ANYTHING positive in his actions at this point it too little too freaking late. He is a national WASTE. Ohio should do us ALL a favor and send him packing in the next election.

  2. Make no mistake about it. Boehner’s woes are a reflection of the bigger picture the Republicans have brought on themselves. I’ve heard the Republican brain trust wants to rename the party the “Growth and Opportunity Party” in an attempt to put lipstick on the pig in this case the elephant. Pardon me? If I were an elephant I’d lobby to be removed as the mascot of a party driven to drunken orgies of ignorance and intolerance.

    As if a change of name would make a difference for a party gone to the dogs. You have to wonder about the level of hypocrisy that give rise to such inept fantasies. This is the party of fools who’s disgrace has evolved from the dishonor of Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan the hatchling hero of the new crackpot GOP brand.

    For all their clamoring to open their “big tent” and forge a new brand the GOP will never shed their legacy of fear and ignorance. They have oppressed and denied the rights of women, minorities and gays. They have traditionally opposed helping the poor and needy in favor of the wealthy. They are a miserly lot now trying to hide in the darkness they have created for themselves. The disgrace of Speaker Boehner and the Republican party is coming full circle. They know it and can do nothing about it other than scramble for answers to nowhere. May their shame be heaped upon their heads in buckets.

  3. Stop the presses!! Oh, wait, for the most part they’ve already been stopped.

    But if the presses were still running they’d immediately be stopped to report this: Mr. Littwin wrote a column in praise of (wait for it) Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner. No, I’m not kidding.

    But that ain’t all. There’s even more shocking news: Mr. Littwin has actually wrapped his arms tightly around a budget deal he freely admits was “bad for liberals”. I predict Mr. Littwin is about to experience a sharp decline in the number of wine and cheese party invitations he receives.

    With the budget deal in place Republicans can concentrate their efforts on the gift that keeps on giving: Obamacare.

    “A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this week asked uninsured individuals whether or not they thought the law was a good idea. Just 24 percent said they thought it was. In contrast, half the uninsured polled said they thought it was a bad idea. As the Journal points out, that represents an 11 point drop in support for the law amongst the uninsured since September. The same poll also finds that 56 percent of the uninsured believe the law will have a negative effect on the U.S. health care system.”

    Keep in mind, the whole idea behind Obamacare was to allow the 40 to 50 million (depending on the day of the week) uninsured Americans the opportunity to purchase health insurance. This poll would suggest they don’t appear overjoyed with that opportunity.

    And there’s more. President Obama promised if you liked your doctor you could keep you doctor. Well, guess what? That turns out to be only half-true. Yes, you can keep your doctor but according to Obamacare architect Zeke Emanuel, “if you want to, you can pay for it”.

    I don’t think those are the kinds of things former Speaker Pelosi meant when she urged Congress to pass Obamacare so we could all see what was in it.

    “Kanye West says he wants to be the “Obama of clothing.” So, he’s designing looks nobody wants and selling them on a site that doesn’t work.”

    Jay Leno

  4. Republicans are caught in a vise about to be squeezed to the point of no return. They’re betting the house the Affordable Care Act will bust. They have NOTHING on their issues platter to talk about between now and election day 2014. Hang on. It’s about to get worse for the party of Ronny the great.

    There are nearly 2 million current enrollees who have completed the registration process and will pick a plan before the enrollment deadline. In much the same way one waits to send the IRS a check before April 15, the new enrollees will wait until just before the deadline to choose a plan. Bad news for the Republicans about to be scalped politically by their loser mentality to bring down the President.

    During the rollout of the Massachusetts healthcare act better known as Romneycare, only 6% of the potential enrollees signed up in the first 2 months. Hardly a windfall. Romneycare took time to succeed but succeed it did as will the Affordable Care Act given time. Gallup is reporting an uptick in the approval rating for the ACA since the glitches have been fixed for the most part. A crack in the Republican noise machine but a crack none the less. Give it time. Republicans are facing big problems.

    Large health insurance companies like Wellpoint, Aetna, Humana, and United Health group are projecting robust revenues and profits from a boom in business from newly insured Americans covered under the ACA. I’ll take corporate America’s word over the gloom and doom BS of the Republican Party. I think they know more about the economics of business than some wing nut Republican in Congress whining about Obamacare.

    My money goes where the profits are. Tea Baggers for all their free market worshipping should know better. They’re not very smart when it comes to economics and investing. Go get em Mr Speaker.

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