John Boehner, the Republican Congressman from Ohio, announced that he will run to remain Speaker of the House after the 2014 mid-term races and shockingly, not having enough spine to tackle important legislation in an election year will assuredly seal his victory. “It won’t even be close,” he said confidently in an interview for the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Boehner has held the job as speaker since January of 2011 and is correct to be so bold when talking about his reelection chances even though he has often tangled with his own party. He has been criticized and challenged by Tea Party members and headline grabbers like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee on a myriad of issues ranging from last year’s very serious fiscal cliff crisis all the way to the outright mundane in teeing off with the president on the links. But Boehner has learned the one-two punch that keeps these Republican members of the so-called “do nothing congress” in line and the winning combination starts with bashing the president frequently enough to sate their anti-Obama appetites, followed by not seriously taking on any important legislation.
However Boehner is a staunch establishment Republican and pushes back against the hard right on occasion to keep the moderates behind him, such as when he called the Republican opposition to last year’s bi-partisan budget deal “ridiculous” and declared that Tea Party advocacy groups like Heritage Action had “lost all credibility.” John Boehner, simply put, is too spineless to stand all the way up on much of anything, but rather prefers to remain seated while offering up a well-timed golf-clap for conservative causes when his own credibility as speaker is threatened.
Take, for instance, immigration. Democrats and Republicans agree it is high time to fix our debacle of an immigration system. The President even highlighted it in his State of the Union address and conservatives have been barking about it for years. Boehner’s reform ideas overlap so heavily with the Democrat’s that he’s been attacked by Republicans for supporting amnesty – a four letter word for people on the right. In response, Boehner said, “I have been clear that I oppose the massive, flawed immigration reform bill passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate,” and even went so far as to attack Obama’s trustworthiness, saying, “There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws.” By doing things like this, Boehner shows he’s not a wacko bird by coming to the table with realistic ideas, but then is forced to slam the Democrats and the president to keep the far right from coming after him. The end result is nothing will happen in 2014 in terms of immigration reform, but John Boehner will retain his speakership. Welcome to American politics.
The speaker does not emerge from these tilts unscathed though. Boehner has not been invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year, although he’s a regular attendee as the highest ranking Republican in the land. It is unusual that he wasn’t invited even if he is a focal point of debate within his own party, especially considering the Republicans who will appear at CPAC. First, there is Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who will be facing a Tea Party-sponsored primary challenger during his reelection bid. Second, there will be an appearance from much-maligned establishment Republican Governor, Chris Christie, who is dealing with the “Bridgegate” scandal in New Jersey after surviving the unforgivable transgression of being photographed while warmly shaking hands with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy.
However all of this doesn’t matter. What matters is that John Boehner will remain Speaker of the House because he’s just spineless enough to be the best politician for the job.
Opinion By Matt Stinson