Why Boehner Has Been Punting

Why Boehner Has Been Punting

Posted in the Minneapolis Forum


Chicago, IL

#1 Jul 15, 2013
On the surface, the Club for Growth may be all about the promotion of fiscal conservatism in our nation’s capital. But the group is as much in the provocation business as it is in the tax-cut-enforcing business, which is why, I suspect, its president, the former Republican congressman Chris Chocola, told me this spring that Nancy Pelosi was his “ideal model” of a great speaker of the House. Not John Boehner, about whom I was calling. Pelosi.

“She was willing to risk her position to pass Obamacare,” he explained.“Her ­caucus was against it, the polls were against it, and she risked it. She lost her job in the process, but I suspect she’s okay with that. The fact that she did is a lesson Republicans should learn: Do something you believe in enough to risk your job.”

Whereas Boehner? I asked.

“He’s not going to drive the outcome,” said Chocola.“He’s going to manage the outcome.”

These words seemed especially ­prescient a few weeks later, when Speaker Boehner held his final press conference before the July recess. A bipartisan immigration bill was on the verge of passing the Senate later that afternoon. In an alternate universe, one could imagine Boehner bringing that Senate bill to the House floor, even though it allowed a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, which the majority of his conference doesn’t support. He’s a conservative, certainly, but also an institutionalist, an old-school politician who likes to do deals; as his months-long effort to concoct a “grand bargain” with Obama on the budget showed, he has an interest, at 63, in leaving a legacy of bipartisan accomplishments behind him. Most Democrats discern in him a rational streak, though they pity him for it.(“John Boehner is a reasonable man,” Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, told me this spring,“and that probably damns him.”)

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