Monday, September 30, 2013

Elsewhere: Boehner, Cruz, more

Today's TAP column was about how John Boehner is far more secure in his job than people seem to think.

Over the weekend at Salon, I argued that Ted Cruz didn't get closer to the White House this week; it's one thing to annoy other Senators, but it's another to lead your party off a cliff in a very visible way.

And at PP today, I pointed out again that if 25 or so sane Republicans refuse to vote for the Cruzified CR, the fight would likely be over.

Later this afternoon, there was some reporting that exactly that might happen -- in fact, that the latest CR (which has the Vitter Amendment and a delay of the individual mandate) might lose Republican votes on both sides of the GOP. If it does go down, then there's only one House majority on the CR, and it's going to be pretty hard at that point for Boehner to resist putting a clean CR on the floor and letting it pass. On the other hand, if it passes...then Republicans are threatening at least one more round tonight (all-night ping pong!). So we'll see.

I'm remembering that the House was in, for some reason, during the epic 16 inning Mets/Astros Game 6. Maybe we'll get a great game in the AL 2WC playoff tonight to keep us entertained during the ping pong. Anyway, I see the House is in; guess we'll learn more soon.


  1. Can I declare a shutdown open thread? Personally I think the GOP is falling apart and pretty soon they won't have enough votes to pass their own CR's and thus will have to fold and pass a clean CR. But i have no idea if this process will be over by midnight. I could see a really short shutdown with a GOP cave happening over the next few days.

  2. Just saw Pres Obama's statement on the shutdown. Reasonable tone, compassionate language but also pinning it directly to "one faction of one party in one House of one branch of government" and characterizing this as a ransom demand "over a law they don't like."

    I thought it was pitch perfect but I wonder how others reacted...

  3. We have to hope that the GOP continues to look clearly, unmistakably incompetent in terms of optics and political craft. Because the logistical ins and outs of this are complicated enough that "neutral" media can get by in hiding behind reporting unfolding details, constructing portraits of false equivalence. And blindsided mid-to-lower information citizens won't know what to make of it, except to go with who they ex-ante identify with culturally and socially.

  4. If Boehner avoids a shutdown at this point, then I think it proves he's a poor speaker. He could have avoided a shutdown days ago, at least, thus also avoided all the embarrassing public intra-party squabblin' hurting the GOP brand, and -- as you've argued convincingly at length -- still kept his speaker job, because no one else wants it and structural forces persist. So at this point, I think Boehner goes through with the shutdown as some way to sincerely (and mistakenly) force Obama to cave or teach his members a lesson (which also might be psychologically mistaken). In that case, he's thinking strategically within the confines of the GOP-universe. But if he avoids a shutdown at this point, he's all but admitted that he misjudged what he should have done on Saturday.

    1. I don't agree with this. Had he folded around midnight, then what he got out of the multi-round thing was (1) his Members got to take votes they wanted to take, and (2) they forced Dems to take votes which they wanted Dems to take. I don't know that the cost of "GOP chaos" would have been more than the benefits.

      Actually shutting down either because he thinks there's a chance Dems cave or for teaching the Tea Partiers a lesson is, IMO, a real mistake. I think Boehner's in worse shape now than he was at 10PM.

    2. Further to Jonathan's comment above, at 7 AM EST, S&P futures are up about 0.5%. We can, and should, argue at length about the partisan impact of a noteworthy event like a shutdown.

      But when the price-setting, deep-pocketed investors react to your once-in-a-generation power play with (apparently) relief that it is an empty, impotent gesture - well, that can't help your leadership bona fides.

    3. Thanks for the reply, Jonathan. That's understandable reasoning to me. You'd know better than me what has enduring political effect come election time: these on-the-record votes in an exceptional context that can be used in ads or the GOP chaos that includes extended, open dissension by party actors about shutdown tactics and their party's irresponsibility. If Boehner has reason to believe that setting up bad votes for Democrats will pay off in fall 2014, then one can make the case he was politically smart to do it. If he only did it because he was letting "Members...take votes they wanted to take," then he should thought twice about his members' acumen, perhaps overruled them, and nipped this in the bud.

  5. Cruz is not going to look good. His "DontBlink" plan isn't working. He'll be known as the guy who talked for 21 hours and read Green Eggs and Ham in the Senate. Then he (or was it other Republicans) complained that no one was serious about negotiating. So absurd.

  6. Jonathan,

    When are you going to write your piece on the career of Bud Selig who announce he'll be stepping down next year. I know the concise version: he stinks but I'm looking for the full post.



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