Earlier today, the 113th Congress voted John Boehner (R-OH) Speaker of the House for a second term; Hot Air essentially live-blogged the vote (if you are interested in seeing how things unfolded in real-time). If you are like me, you were probably hoping to see some new blood elected into that position, given the recent failures of the House in stopping Obama’s taxing and spending agenda. As it turned out, there was never a coalescing around an alternate candidate, an no one even faintly signaled that they wanted the job. Arguably the most viable opponent to Boehner would have beem Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and if you were looking for new blood, Cantor really wouldn’t have been it.
However, a piece I read by Michelle Stansbury has me thinking that maybe Boehner is the right man for the job after all, and this was the best outcome possible (stay with me). In the article, Stansbury suggests that it wasn’t necessarily Boehner that was the problem, but rather the conventional wisdom of Republicans in dealing with Democrats:
Historically, the problem isn’t Boehner, it’s tired Republican strategy.
Republicans, for decades, have been sucked in by the Democrat Party’s last-minute engineered emergencies like the “fiscal cliff”. This crisis is manufactured under the transparent drive to increase taxes. Republicans walk into negotiations demanding spending cuts and come out with tails between their legs and higher taxes. Frankly, it’s as ancient a story as The Three Little Pigs.
Almost everyone knows the story of Ronald Reagan. He thought he went for a deal that raised one dollar in taxes for every three dollars in spending cuts. Unfortunately, the majority of those cuts never came. While the Washington Post refutes the claim, there is still strong evidence to suggest that this is what Reagan believed when signing the deal.
Continuing on, let’s not forget President George H.W. Bush who, in 1990, was promised two dollars in spending cuts for every one dollar in tax hikes. Sadly the story ended with a 137 billion dollar tax increase and an additional 22 billion dollars in spending.
Following suit yet again, Boehner and a host of Republicans believed that they could negotiate their way to a compromise with a party who simply wasn’t interested in a win-win scenario.
These examples aren’t meant to make Republicans out as martyrs. We are all big boys and girls with our own separate philosophies and motivations. The Democrat’s strategy works every time because Republicans refuse to learn their lesson every time.
There is a great deal of truth in what she writes. In fact, I recently wrote about how the Democrats were negotiating in bad faith on the Fiscal Cliff deal. Truth be told, I hadn’t really thought about it in the grander scheme of things, and just assumed that is was Boehner’s personal weakness that was the problem, not that it was perhaps the way the Republicans/conservatives approach negotiations in general. In a nutshell, conservatives approach negotiations looking out for what is best for the country, while Democts/leftists approach negotions looking for blood.
Perhaps we tend to put these things out of mind to an extent. Reagan is a hero to most conservatives; we generally don’t like to think about him being outwitted by the Democrats on taxes and amnesty. Same for other Republican failures over the years. Instead, (especially judging by the clatter on Twitter and conservative websites) we seem to prefer tearing ourselves apart.
Maybe now it’s time we finally learned our lesson and changed our tactics. It seems like Boehner has indeed learned that lesson when he announced that he would no longer negotiate one-on-one with Obama, and instead return to the regular order. From the article above:
But here is where the ball game changes: After all these years of misled Republicans, Speaker Boehner has made it clear that he will no longer negotiate with President Obama. Boehner has learned the lesson Republicans should have learned decades ago: Negotiating reasonably with Democrats is the way one loses to Democrats. Which is exactly why, moving forward, we need John Boehner as Speaker.
That remains to be seen. I’ll reserve judgment until it’s time to deal with the debt ceiling issue and the sequestration cuts that were delayed two months. In the meantime, the GOP is going to need to set down a serious public relations plan, especially with the media ready to pounce on any “misstep”. Perhaps Boehner should also call Newt Gingrich and schedule some time to have a talk. Newt was propably the last member of the GOP leadership who understood how the Democrats played the game, and to get a popular incumbent Democrat President to bend to the right.
Is Boehner the right man for the job? Time (precious little of it) will tell, but I sure hope so for this country’s sake.