Boehner’s problem with the militant right is not that he isn’t a conservative — he is — but that he is suave rather than confrontational. As an analogy, Baby Face Nelson was one of the most ruthless gangsters in history. Baby Face got his nickname for his youthful aspect, not for being a softie. John Boehner’s record shows him “public enemy number one” to progressives, not conservatives.
Boehner may well be the worst thing to happen to progressives since December 26, 1991… when Gorbachev dissolved the USSR. The left understands this better than does the right.
Boehner’s problem with conservative firebrands seems to derive from the fact that he is all action, no talk. (Or as they would put it in Texas, he’s all cattle, no hat.) Rather than indulging in fierce rhetoric Boehner has parlayed into big wins a small stake and an impossibly weak political hand — a narrow and fractious Republican majority in one of three branches (with a “fourth estate,” the media, largely hostile to conservatives.)
My torch-and-pitchfork wielding colleagues aren’t getting how deeply conservative is John Boehner. They are looking for Genghis John while what’s in front of them is Baby Face Boehner. Lethal to liberals, just not showy.
It is time to see Boehner as the conservative he is.
For instance, let’s look at an the conservatives’ favorite warhorse: profligate federal spending. The federal budget deficit for 2014 was the lowest in 5 years:
From CBC News:
The U.S. budget deficit will fall to $514 billion US in 2014, the lowest level since President Barack Obama took office, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday.
The U.S. is seeing higher tax revenues from the recovering economy and has sharply curbed agency spending as part of thebudget deal between Democrat and Republican lawmakers.
The CRomnibus will ease but not end the squeeze on spending. Meanwhile it modulates the defense cuts that most conservatives oppose.
The tight Murray-Ryan budget represented a softening but not a killing of the sequester, drawing this cry of agony from the far left’s American Progress:
The Murray-Ryan budget agreement limits nondefense discretionary spending to about $492 billion in FY 2014. That is about$22 billion more than the spending limit imposed by sequestration, but it is also about $14 billion less than the pre-sequester spending level … which was already slightly reduced from the original level agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011. More importantly, the Murray-Ryan agreement is a severe cut from just a few years ago. In FY 2010, Congress allocated about $542 billion for nondefense discretionary programs. Had it frozen spending at FY 2010 levels, nondefense discretionary programs would have received about $586 billion in FY 2014, when adjusting for inflation. This is about 19 percent more than the Murray-Ryan agreement provides.
Politico reports, of the CRomnibus:
The giant package, which Obama has pledged to sign, is very much a product of that same budget agreement last month. But if December set the limits on spending, this bill now spells out where the dollars will go. And as such, it sets a new template for appropriations for the remainder of the president’s second term.
Filling hundreds of pages, it literally touches every corner of government. And more than any single document to date, it defines the new budget reality that faces Obama and his activist agenda.
Obama’s signature health care and Wall Street reforms will endure but with far less money than he had wanted. About $20 billion is restored for domestic programs cut under sequestration last spring. But measured in real dollars adjusted for inflation, Obama is still left with less than Congress approved six years ago for his Republican predecessor — President George W. Bush.
A year ago, the reliably progressive (and consistently astute) Michael Tomasky, in the New York Review of Books, in Can Obama Reverse the Republican Surge, noted (well before the drubbing the Democrats received in the most recent election) soberly:
[F]iscally, the GOP remains in the driver’s seat. … Indeed, going back to 2010, when the GOP took control of the House, nearly everything has gone more or less the Republicans’ way on fiscal issues—they got the Bush tax cuts locked in (except on the highest earners), government spending reduced, and the sequester imposed.
Despite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s efforts to renegotiate the sequester, Obama in effect has conceded he can live with its across-the-board spending levels: In September, the White House announced it would approve a House Republican spending bill that kept the government funded at current levels as long as language that would defund Obamacare was stripped out. …
Republicans, especially Tea Party Republicans, had pushed for these lowered spending levels, and Democrats had resisted them strongly. That deal remains Barack Obama’s nadir as president. Focused on reelection, he and his advisers thought they were impressing swing voters by demonstrating a willingness to compromise. But polls at the time showed that really wasn’t the case—swing voters just thought the president looked weak. And Democrats on Capitol Hill hated the cuts.
But they were law, and they became, to use one of those phrases one hears in Washington far more than anywhere else, “baked in the cake.” … Sequestration is a big part of the reason that another long-sought goal of Tea Party members and other fiscal conservatives has been met. For the first time since the early 1950s, federal spending has declined for two consecutive years.
Boehner consistently has outclassed, outworked, and outmaneuvered his adversaries . Two years ago I wrote, in How President Obama Lost His Shirt to John Boehner,
[A]t the Battle at Fiscal Cliff, Boehner took President Obama to the cleaners. He did it suavely, without histrionics. While Obama churlishly, and in a politically amateurish manner, publicly strutted about having forced the Republicans to raise tax rates on “the wealthiest Americans” Boehner, quietly, was pocketing his winnings.
Dazzled by Obama’s Ozymandias-scale sneer most liberals failed to notice that Boehner quietly made 99% of the Bush tax cuts permanent. As Boehner himself dryly observed, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board member Steve Moore, “”Who would have ever guessed that we could make 99% of the Bush tax cuts permanent? When we had a Republican House and Senate and a Republican in the White House, we couldn’t get that. And so, not bad.’”
“Not bad” is a resounding understatement. Dealt a weak hand, Boehner managed to 99% outfox, on tax policy, a president who had the massive apparatus of the executive branch, the Senate majority, and a left-leaning national elite media whooping it up for a whopping tax increase. …
Boehner has no vendetta against the Tea Party. It is high time for us to drop ours against him.
The New York Herald, on September 18, 1863, reported a story about President Lincoln with some of his advisors who were seeking the removal of General Grant.
After the failure of his first experimental explorations around Vicksburg, a committee of abolition war managers waited upon the President and demanded the General’s removal, on the false charge that he was a whiskey drinker, and little better than a common drunkard. “Ah!” exclaimed Honest Old Abe, “you surprise me, gentlemen. But can you tell me where he gets his whiskey?” “We cannot, Mr. President. But why do you desire to know?” “Because, if I can only find out, I will send a barrel of this wonderful whiskey to every general in the army.”
Rather than calling for Boehner’s replacement true conservatives would be better off ascertaining where Boehner buys his Merlot … and sending a barrel of it to every Republican in the Congress.
Boehner won many victories for conservatives based on a shrewd calculus and steely nerves. There’s a lot of big political talkers telling us what we want to hear. Boehner, rather than grandstanding, steadily moved America right under impossibly adverse circumstances and assuredly will continue to do so under more favorable circumstances. John Boehner, by deed, is the progressives’ public enemy number one