House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has struggled since grabbing the gavel 33 months ago, but the last few weeks have been especially brutal. He didn’t want a government shutdown, but his own members rejected his advice. Boehner didn’t want a debt-ceiling crisis, either, but his members balked at following his lead on this, too.
Even last night, after the Speaker endorsed a bipartisan resolution to the crisis his own caucus created, most House Republicans rejected the plan Boehner grudgingly supported.
Indeed, just 24 hours ago, National Review’s Robert Costa had breakfast with some House Republican lawmakers who said they’re “losing faith in their leadership.”
So how much trouble is Boehner really in? Not as much as common sense might suggest.
House conservatives said Wednesday that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is in no danger of losing his post, despite presiding over a Republican defeat in the fight over government funding and the debt ceiling.“I don’t think Speaker Boehner has anything to worry about right now,” said Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), a conservative who refused to vote for Boehner in January.
When Boehner hosted a caucus meeting yesterday, breaking the news that the House would have to pass the Senate’s bipartisan compromise, he received a standing ovation – even though most House Republicans opposed and rejected the plan.
Roll Call added, “GOP lawmakers from across the conference say there are no coup attempts in the works and few complaints over the job Boehner did on the shutdown and debt limit fights.”
How is this possible? As implausible as this may seem, congressional Republicans are pointing a lot of fingers this morning, but none of them are pointed at the Speaker. GOP pragmatists are blaming Tea Partiers; Tea Partiers are blaming pragmatists; and they’re both blaming the media. Republicans are furious with President Obama for not caving the way they expected him to, and are even angrier with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for making them look bad.
But Boehner, at least for the time being, is in the clear. He took orders from his followers, so for now, they’re satisfied.
Stepping back, though, the bigger picture offers a good-news/bad-news dynamic for the embattled, accomplishment-free Speaker. The good news is, Boehner’s GOP conference still likes him and sees no need to replace him.
The bad news is his members intend to keep ignoring his wishes and rejecting his advice.
In other words, Boehner is still the Speaker. He’s also still the Speaker In Name Only.