The internet is still abuzz with Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner’s epic, and very public, fail on Thursday night. Predictions of Boehner’s doom and the end of the world as we “tumble” over a fiscal cliff that is more like a gentle curve have been running rampant. But really, Boehner never had a chance. I almost feel bad for the guy.
On the one hand, he’s faced with a caucus filled with Tea Party crazies who, let’s be honest, would like the country to burn to the ground, thank you very much. They’re practically salivating for the debt ceiling debate next year. They managed to get the United States credit rating by a single agency downgraded last year, put a serious dent in the recovery and shook the world’s markets. Just imagine how much damage they can do this time if they just stick to their guns? These people are nihilists and Boehner has no control over them at all.
On the other hand, he’s got President Obama to contend with. Fresh off his historic win/crushing and humiliating defeat for the GOP, Obama has taken a much harsher negotiating stance with the GOP and they simply don’t know what to do. Boehner, who seems more concerned with holding onto his job than governing, refuses to do anything other than pander to the crazy wing of his caucus. This does not appear to be a winning strategy for him. Even when he compromises (the ultimate dirty word to the Tea Party), he finds a uninterested Obama. Via the Wall Street Journal:
“Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.”
At one point, Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”
Replied Obama: “You get nothing. I get that for free.”
The sooner Boehner and the GOP figure out that they have nothing to bargain with and that the Tea Party is rapidly dragging them to their electoral doom, the better off they, and the country, will be. Until then, break out the good stuff, Johnny, you’re gonna need it to get through this one without having a nervous breakdown.