Don’t look now, but something remarkable happened in Washington today: both political parties claimed they weren’t happy with a bill but passed it anyway. That’s what used to be known as compromise in Congress. And for House Speaker Boehner the House support he received was a well-deserved reward for having been put through a lot of – well, stuff.
I think he must be either trying to save his political life, discounting the value of it – or being sincerely candid. At a year-end press conference today he was openly critical of conservative organizations that have been the biggest obstacle to bipartisan compromise this country has seen since just before the Civil War, noting they have “lost all credibility” in being critical of a bipartisan budget deal before it was even released.
In obvious anger and frustration he accused – without identifying any groups in particular – those organizations that have hamstrung his speakership as “misleading their followers,” saying that, “I think they’re pushing our members in places where they don’t want to be, and frankly I just think that they’ve lost all credibility.”
On the budget bill, the Speaker noted it wasn’t everything Republicans would have hoped for, but it “takes giant steps in the right direction.” Wait. You mean like making a deal in the interest of your constituents instead of yourselves? Go on. Boehner went on to say that, “I came here to cut the size of government. That’s exactly what this bill does, and why conservatives wouldn’t vote for this, or [would] criticize the bill is beyond any recognition I could come up with.”
I’ve got a potential reason, Mr. Speaker. It’s because in the aspirational views of certain Republican opportunists that have jumped on the Tea Party bandwagon Democrats have the wicked wiles. Remember this from Snow White?
Thus the Tea Party and that ilk spent most of 2013 trying mightily to transform the Republican Party from the Party of No to the Party of Anarchy. But alas, with the passage of today’s two-year budget deal it would appear the Republican Party may have broken free of those reactionary shackles. With only 62 Republican defections, the House appeared to brush off criticism and partisan threats from conservative groups like Heritage Action and Club for Growth.
And kudos to Rep. Paul Ryan for saying that,“elections have consequences … to really do what we think needs to be done, we’re going to have to win some elections. And in the meantime, let’s try to make this divided government work.”
Let me attempt to restate that in a different manner: In a democracy, being a minority political party by only a very narrow margin is a frustrating position. There are two approaches to deal with that frustration: obstinate immaturity or constructive pragmatism. The Tea Party has favored the former. Today the Republican Party chose the latter. Without having to change their core beliefs they are a step closer today than they were yesterday to winning the elections Paul Ryan noted.