In Support of Boehner

The vote for Speaker of the House is today, so I'm too late to have any affect on anything and am just relieving my feelings of frustration, but as my assorted social media feeds have been shouting at me to "dump the Speaker" for months, I have to say I think the anti-Boehner campaign is extremely misguided and highlights the misgivings I have about the so-called "Tea Party," even though I basically share its policy aims.

First of all, on the matter which sparked today's move against the Speaker: "CRomnibus," and the so-called "cave" to the President's illicit executive order on immigration. There was no cave. There was a fight set up, but a fight wisely deferred until it could be won. The Continuing Resolution funds most of the government for a year, but the Department of Homeland Security only through February. Which means: Boehner's going to fight on immigration policy, but he wisely waited to start the battle when the Cavalry (the new Senate) arrives. 

I have no idea what people who wanted to have that fight in December think they could have accomplished while Harry Reid still ran the Senate -- other than utterly squander the political capital gained during the mid-term elections by shutting down the government. Do you want to actually change the policy or do you just want to pontificate?

CRomnibus isn't a great bill. There's no love lost between any real Conservative and a multi-trillion dollar government spending plan under any circumstances. But in politics you work incrementally, and there were a lot of Conservative "wins." 

Blaming Boehner for Cromnibus is like blaming Pius XII for not helping Jews or calling Lincoln a racist: people want their rhetoric loud and their demonstrations showy, but pay little attention to actual actions and results. 

I often have the impression that no one understands any longer how our system works. The Speaker of the House, while he naturally has some influence over party positions, has limits on his power. He can't go much beyond what the members of his party are willing to do. Denouncing Boehner as a "RINO" strikes me as grossly unfair. He's a reliable Conservative, good at pushing his members in the right direction, and with a good sense of how far his people are willing to go. He's also (like McConnell in the Senate) a highly effective parliamentarian (which -update!- is how he forced the sequester on Obama, resulting in the ONLY actual federal deficit reduction in absolute terms in my lifetime), which is all the more needed when you have a crop of newbies who don't understand the House rules yet. 

He could be a trifle bolder, perhaps. Perhaps. What I mostly wish is that he and the GOP generally had a better communications operation to educate GOP voters and the American people on the reasoning behind what they do. I wish the absurd criticism about not fighting on immigration didn't go un-answered. And I especially wish that Tea Party figures chose their battles and their villains more wisely. I wish they lived the Catholic virtue of solidarity, understanding that when you come to office, you have to govern from where the country actually is. You don't get tabula rasa, and no matter how much you hate your predecessors' policies and consider yourself mandated to undo them, you are responsible for those very policies and responsible to the people relying on them, because you are part of the American people who put them in place. 

I don't fear for Boehner (has he been re-elected yet)? He is well-loved by most of his colleagues because he works like a dog for them in their campaigns, in and out of everyone's districts. If others want Boehner's position, they could learn from him how to serve others and not just rant at them.