Sunday, December 23, 2012

Boehner's Already Low Popularity Takes A Hit But Is He Vulnerable?


Boehner knows he can count on Steve Israel for a free pass again

The GOP smear machine went to work on Pelosi many years ago and systematically turned her into a symbol of loathing for the right-wing/Fox News/hate talk radio base. They did their worst to turn her into a divisive figure, an untrustworthy "other" and put millions and millions of campaign dollars into tying all their electoral targets to her. Democrats had done something similarly with Tom DeLay, the difference being that DeLay is a convicted criminal, a zealot for the interests of plutocrats and an unhinged extremist. Pelosi is a politician with better than average ethics and a slightly left-of-center, but very much mainstream, ideological bent. For all the accusations the GOP is always whining about in regard to "politics of personal destruction," Democrats don't do it very well-- and not nearly as well as Republicans do.

But a new Rasmussen survey shows that Boehner is now the least-liked congressional leader, "with just 31 percent of voters holding a positive opinion of the Republican leader and more than half-- 51 percent-- saying they view the Ohio congressman unfavorably." And despite all the GOP propaganda spent to demonize her, Pelosi is 8 points more popular than Boehner. Democrats haven't had much of a hand in this. Boehner bumbled and stumbled into it pretty much all himself.
Boehner's slipping popularity likely comes from voters' wariness with Republicans as the deadline to reach a debt deal approaches.

In a Pew Research poll released earlier this month, 53 percent said they would blame the GOP if the crisis was not resolved, versus just 27 percent who said they would blame Democrats.

But Boehner has also lost favor with some conservatives after removing four Tea Party freshmen from their preferred committees for breaking with leadership on key votes. That's led to some Republicans suggesting that Boehner could be vulnerable in a vote to retain his gavel next month.
Even though Boehner has failed to rally his caucus when it's come to the Grand Bargain he and Obama are putting together, and despite the machinations of a few Republican extremists, most congressional observers feel that Boehner's hold on the Speaker's chair is fairly secure.
The House Republican conference refused to deliver the votes to pass the Ohio lawmaker's “Plan B” tax bill to prevent much of the fiscal cliff, sapping the Speaker of leverage in the climactic days of his year-end negotiations with President Obama and Democratic leaders.

But conservative critics of Boehner’s approach said in the aftermath of the defeat there had been no discussion of ousting the Speaker, and they fully expected him to be reelected by the House during a formal floor vote on Jan. 3 at the opening of the 113th Congress.

“This was not a vote of no confidence in the Speaker,” freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), an opponent of Boehner’s Plan B legislation, said in an interview. “This was a legislative defeat, not a personal defeat.”

Another vocal critic of the Speaker’s proposal, Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), said: “He is my Speaker, and I support him.”

Boehner has watched bills fail on the floor several times during his two-year tenure, but none of those losses appeared to be as wrenching for the Speaker as what happened on Thursday night. After leaders assured reporters they had the votes throughout the day, Boehner abruptly canceled the vote shortly before 8 p.m. and led his members in an emotional prayer before dismissing them from the Capitol.

A source close to the leadership operation said that Boehner is "still in good standing with the members," and that he has not been calling lawmakers to ensure their support for him on Jan. 3.

Even though pulling the bill may have weakened his leverage at the negotiating table with Democrats, several conservatives told The Hill that Boehner helped himself in the conference for not forcing them to vote on a tough bill.
In the 4 years Pelosi sat in the Speaker's chair, she never once brought a bill up with first having the backing to pass it. Not once-- and her majority was never as big as Boehner's. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), a mainstream conservative who's retiring from Congress largely because he's disgusted with how extreme fascists have infiltrated the House GOP and can prevent effective governance, thinks Boehner's speakership is safe. “It’s like saying the superintendent of an insane asylum should be discharged because he couldn’t control the crazy people. That’s nuts.” Boehner claims he's not worried about it-- but, you may recall he also claimed all last week that he had the votes to pass Plan B.
Boehner is personally well-liked by most House Republicans, and even some of the most vocal conservative critics of his strategy over the last two years have said they sympathize with the difficulty of his position.

Another reason for Boehner’s job security is that there are few viable alternatives in the House GOP conference, and Boehner has worked deliberately to keep in close counsel with the handful of members with the stature to challenge him. After reports of discord in 2011, Cantor has worked in lockstep with Boehner in recent months and backed his concession to Obama since the election, first on new revenue and then on higher tax rates for millionaires.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and a favorite of House conservatives, has maintained a lower profile but signed on to Boehner’s Plan B and defended it on the House floor Thursday. Shortly after the election, the Speaker invited Ryan and two other influential committee chairmen to join daily leadership strategy sessions on the fiscal cliff.

...One conservative House Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the only way Boehner’s position is likely to be in serious jeopardy is if he agrees to raise the debt ceiling in a fiscal-cliff deal with Obama without significant concessions on spending cuts and entitlement reform from the president.

“If he gives away the debt ceiling, he’s in trouble,” the member said.
So will the Democrats take advantage of Boehner's unpopularity and try to defeat him in 2014? NOT. A. CHANCE. Once Pelosi gave Steve Israel the nod to keep running the DCCC, Boehner knew he would be completely safe and the DCCC would give him, Cantor, Ryan, McCarthy and the rest of the top GOP leaders "get reelected free" passes again. It's the way Israel rolls. In 2010 when a sharp, dedicated, independent-minded West Point grad and Iraq War vet, Justin Coussoule, ran against Boehner, the DCCC not only didn't support his long shot bid, the DCCC went out of its way to humiliate Coussoule and make sure that he and other Ohio Democrats got the message that a challenge to Boehner will not be welcomed by the corrupt Beltway Democratic Establishment. In 2012... no one ran against him-- just the way Steve Israel wanted it.

Meanwhile Establishment DC Republicans are blaming Boehner's failure to get Plan B passed on the heavily-financed, neo-fascist elements inside the GOP that have more and more been able to call the shots for the once mainstream party.
Asked why GOP leaders didn’t have the votes, deputy whip Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) told The Hill, “You've got to ask Club for Growth, Heritage Action and all those guys who bullied members of Congress into voting against their own best interests.”
Too many House Republicans were just scared to death of primaries financed by sociopaths like the Koch brothers, sons of one of the founders of an American Nazi Party offshoot, the John Birch Society. They fear the ability of deranged right-wing extremists to rile up the Fox mob/teabaggers than they worry about Boehner disciplining them, the way he showily tried to make examples of Justin Amash (R-MI), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) two weeks ago. And they fear the fascist mob more than they fear the ability of Obama to make good on his threat to turn the American people against the GOP malefactors and obstructionists.

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At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

As dumb as many of those TeaBaggers, Joe Walsh, are they're still too smart to take an even worse job.

Cantor likes Boner right where he is.

At 5:04 AM, Anonymous me said...

The GOP smear machine went to work on Pelosi many years ago and systematically turned her into a symbol of loathing for the right-wing/Fox News/hate talk radio base.

And she herself did the same for the rest of us.


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