Where’s Boehner’s Backbone?

Boehner, House Leaders Speak To Press After Republican Conference Meeting

A reader writes:

Why is there not more coverage of the Hastert Rule? The speaker chooses to be bound by this rule – which explicitly makes compromise unwelcome – when a full majority of the House would be happy to pass the clean CR and move on. Boehner could lift the Hastert Rule and move the CR to the floor, where Democrats and many members of his own party would pass it.  If he were challenged as Speaker, he could conceivably extract support from the Democrats – especially Democrats in safe districts – to support him against a Republican challenge as Speaker.  Surely the Democrats would rather have Boehner than someone to his right?  The Speaker is elected by the full House!

But Boehner lacks creativity and is trapped in a cage made from his own cowardice.

Another scenario from a reader:

What if John Boehner were a man of principle – well, let’s pretend – and when it came time to raise the debt ceiling and his very right-wing party members refused, he does the truly unexpected. Instead of giving up on the Hastert rule and having to have Democrats come to his rescue, fueling more right-wing scorn, what if he resigned?

That would allow the extreme right wing Tea Partiers to take the blame for the ramifications – whatever they might be – of not raising the debt ceiling. Who would they point their fingers at then?  I’m assuming, of course, that there would be considerable fallout to going over the cliff, but most every reasonable person I have read expects some kind of negative impact on the economy. This might lance the boil that has infected the Republican Party for too long.

If he is so afraid that he won’t be re-elected Speaker that he is giving into demands that he knows are wrong – not just bad politics, but plain wrong – it might be the only way he could regain any sense of being a man with a conscience.

From that Costa interview we linked to earlier:

EK: This may be a bit of an odd question, but why does Boehner want to do his job like this under these circumstances? From the outside, it seems like a miserable existence. 

RC: I think John Boehner is frustrated by leading the Republicans in the House but I think he very much loves being speaker. To understand him you have to understand that. He gets to the Capitol early. He relishes the job and the position but he doesn’t relish being at odds so often with his members. He loves being a major American political figure, but he’s not a Newt Gingrich-like figure trying to lead the party in a certain direction. He’s just trying to survive and enjoy it while it lasts.

(Photo from Getty)