Friday, April 08, 2011

The palm goes to Boehner

If the rumored deal goes through tonight, it strikes me that Boehner is a winner.  I have to admit that I've been impressed with him in 2011.  In the endgame this week, he's managed to give the impression that a) he's being pushed from the right; b) he's faithfully representing the Tea Party agenda, and c) he does not want a shutdown. He's managed to rather massively move the goalposts on the Democrats (unless the spending numbers are jiggered and "40" somehow substantively equals "32") while holding out for the Tea Party riders to the point where prominent conservatives like Huckabee and Bachmann were urging him to deal.  He came home with at topline for cuts 33% higher than what Reid said earlier in the week was agreed on and an impression of having pushed as far as possible on the riders. For all the stories about Boehner being between a rock and a hard place, he seems to have wriggled through.

His victory, such as it is, may be a good thing. He didn't create, or elect, the Tea Party fanatics. He's a moderating influence.  He's given the (carefully meted out) impression that he can work with the President. And, to the extent possible in the age of GOP extremism, maybe he can.

Update, 11:38: a bit of supporting evidence from the Wall Street Journal:

Leaders of the small-government, tea-party movement are generally giving House Speaker John Boehner high marks for his leadership in the spending showdown, even though the agreement eventually reached Friday night fell short of the cuts the tea party once demanded.
Update, 4/9, 12:17: Weigel says it better:

Let’s go back to the raw politics. Can we say that Republicans got the better of the no-shutdown deal? Yes, because if there had been a shutdown, Republicans would have been blamed for it. The record was all cued up. Democrats spent months predicting that Boehner would have trouble controlling his new Tea Party members. They spent this week saying he had to put the Tea Party “horse back in the barn,” as Dick Durbin said. Well, there’s a deal – the implication is that he put the horse back in the barn. If the Republicans would have been blamed for a shutdown, it follows that they get credit for a shutdown being avoided.

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