Friday, December 23, 2011

Who caved? Boehner or McConnell?

The narrative that has developed about the Republican's fiasco on the payroll tax cut extension is that House Speaker Boehner is a weak leader and that he caved. While I'm not interested in challenging that, I can't help but wonder who caved first...Boehner or McConnell. I think that answering that question right is extremely important in ways I'll explain in a minute.

But first of all, we need to remind ourselves that the Republican strategy since President Obama was elected has been one of total obstruction. During the first two years that was mainly accomplished through the use of the filibuster rules in the Senate. After the 2010 midterms, with Republicans in control of the House, that's where most of the action centered. Nevertheless, the strategy was the same...obstruct anything the President proposed.

On the payroll tax cut extension, of course the House passed their ridiculous version first - which everyone simply went on to ignore. And then something different happened in the Senate. Instead of obstructing, McConnell negotiated. There are probably lots of reasons why he changed course. The issue at hand - tax cuts - was likely a big part of that. There's also the fact that we're heading into an election and more people are paying attention to the "sausage-making." Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Congress' approval numbers are the lowest in history as a result of their obstruction strategy. Whatever the cause, McConnell blinked.

When it came time to take that compromise back to the House and the people who were elected in 2010 to do anything and everything they could to take down President Obama - we saw a teapublican revolt. And the chasm we've been watching develop in the GOP nomination process all of the sudden exploded in Congress too. In the end, the "adults" in this instance told the children to sit down and shut up.

So when it comes to the Republican strategy of obstruction we've been seeing since 2009 - it was actually McConnell who caved first - creating the divide.

The reason this is important is that its critical to accurately diagnose the cause of victory if you're going to repeat it. President Obama knows this and that's why, when he challenged the House yesterday to pass this bill he pointed out the unusual alliance that had developed against them.

So it's time for the House to listen to the voices who are up here, the voices all across the country, and reconsider...

This is not just my view. Just a few hours ago, this is exactly what the Republican Leader of the Senate said we should do. Democrats agree with the Republican Leader of the Senate. We should go ahead and get this done. This should not be hard. We all agree it should happen.

As I've said before, that's the "ruthless" part of conciliatory rhetoric as ruthless strategy. The conciliatory wing is what eventually causes the divide. And then you move in for the defeat.

Well played sir...well played.

1 comment:

  1. If I were to guess why Mitch Turtleneck decided to negotiate it would be to try to rescue the KXL (Koch Bro) project. I think that is the only thing near and dear to his heart.

    Also I might mention The People's View has a stunning analysis about how PBO won this fight last year!

    I absolutely love this man!


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