Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a staunch conservative and senior House Republican, raised quite a few eyebrows yesterday when he said his party should take President Obama up on his offer -- pass the tax breaks on all income up to $250,000, and then fight over everything else. Cole called the White House's offer "the right thing to do."
This morning, the Oklahoma congressman talked to Chuck Todd about his perspective, and offered some interesting insights.
Note, right off the bat, Todd noted that Cole used to do political polling professionally, so he's "one of the few politicians that knows how to read a poll." The congressman chuckled and added, "I can read an election, too."
Also note, Cole noted that he told House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) about his preferred approach behind closed doors. "Now, that advice was given in private. You guys have a way of figuring out what is said in private," Cole said. "Somebody leaked it out; that's fine."
And that, of course, leads to the larger question of why Boehner -- or at a minimum, his office -- would let reporters know what Cole privately advised.
If I had to guess, I'd say the Speaker is looking for some political cover, letting his own caucus know that he's not just being pressured to toe the right-wing line; he's also being pushed from the other direction.
Indeed, it's also worth noting that Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), who lost her re-election bid but will still have a vote in the lame-duck session, announced today that she supports Cole's approach and would vote for Obama's tax-cut offer, even if it excludes income above a quarter-million dollars.
Perhaps the larger question is, how many other House Republicans can read an election, too?