Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
Post fiscal cliff, John Boehner has found out that the energy and rage of citizens in the 2010 mid-terms that helped him get a ruling majority in the House of Representatives and his position as Speaker of the House was a Faustian bargain. That the subsequent congressmen elected that reflected that anger gave Boehner a leadership position without true leadership. Turns out the public and new congresspersons weren’t looking for leadership from John Boehner. They were giving dictation.
The debt ceiling negotiations between the Speaker and President Obama in August of 2011. That was the first clear sign of his spokesperson/figurehead status. The President put Social Security, Medicare and Medicare on the table to reduce the deficit in exchange for tax revenue. John Boehner didn’t cut a grand deal he spoke about with President Obama because he couldn’t. He was permitted to speak to the President for House members but he did not represent enough of his party to deliver actionable votes. A party at the time, wanted no tax increases at all. With Boehner muzzled, The White House effectively had no real negotiating partner. The talks broke down, America’s credit rating was downgraded and Boehner’s fear of revealing his figurehead position to the public was hidden in cries and spin claiming the other side is not willing to compromise and devious.
What John Boehner likely knew since then was exposed to the public in the recent fiscal cliff battle. Most likely John Boehner’s presentation of “Plan B” was presented because he already knew “Plan A,” his own negotiated plan with the President and like the grand bargain of 2011, would never survive is own caucus ideological drive to cut government and reticence to raise taxes. Turns out his position was so weak, his Plan B was unacceptable as well. And rejected by his own caucus even though such a public rejection would put the speaker’s own credibility and value as a negotiator at risk.
And it did. The energy and urgency of the fiscal shifted to the Senate with Boehner resigned to watch on the sidelines. His only point of leadership was to defy his own party by allowing the hobbled-together-Senate-passed bill to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives without the Hastert Rule, a rule requiring a majority of Republicans to pass the measure. Instead, he had to have the vote passed with mostly Democratic votes.
John Boehner, likely did this party-enraging act to avoid the full anger and loss of credibility from the American public from falling on the House and what’s left of his speakership. But the damage has likely already been done. Not only in the unprecedented and open challenge to his re-nomination for Speaker of the House that he barely survived Thursday, but the public is now certain, the speaker is not the leader of Republicans in the House. Just the press spokesperson.