John Boehner & The Rock of Sisyphus


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    Good overall summary Will.
    I always feel bemused at the 2011 deal; it was based on the assumption that the old neocon corps of the GOP still had credibility and power since the way the Sequester deal was set up was that the cuts would land on domestic spending and defense spending (things liberals and neocons were respectively very interested in). Then, of course, the neocons were revealed as mostly toothless in their own party and the sequester came down.
    I remain of the Chait frame of mind that Obama agreeing to partner the debt limit increase with anything at all was a very poor idea. It took a shutdown, a near credit rate downgrade and several protracted battles to break out of that unproductive precedent.

    I’d feel for Boehner… except that I don’t. He and McConnell cynically decided at the outset of Obama’s presidency that they’d jujitsu Obama’s Hope’n’Change mantra by denying him any form of bipartisan cooperation regardless of the merits of any given deal. That certainly did Obama considerable harm and probably gave them some significant boosts in the elections that followed. It also metastasized the current dingbat GOP attitude that’s been bedeviling the Democrats, the country and now ultimately, them. They bred up this tiger and it gave me no small amount of satisfaction to see it maul the crap out of them every time they tried to keep it from running them off a cliff.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I would say that Paul Ryan doesn’t want the job because it ruins Presidential ambitions. There seem to be certain positions that are powerful but political dead-enders. Mayor of NYC is another one of these positions. I’m partially convinced that Mario Cuomo only became Governor because he lost the Democratic Primary to Ed Koch during the late 1970s.

    Good summary. My Democratic partisan opinion of the whole saga is that the GOP is being split by too many factions. A big problem with leadership in the House is that they really don’t have that many sticks to use against dissenters. A lot of Congress people are concerned about donors in their districts more than anything else.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      There is little to indicate that Paul Ryan has presidential ambitions, other than that he is an office holder and that’s the sort of ambition we expect office holders to have. And there is quite a bit of reason to believe he doesn’t.

      But this will be explored in tomorrow’s piece.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Well, there was the whole VP nominee thing…Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          He was recruited for that, though. Other than his chairmanships, and the congressional seat he holds to begin with, he’s had to be talked in to stuff, and the one thing no one has yet succeeded in talking him in to is the presidency (despite a couple of attempts).

          He may pursue it later (or might have if he’d not been recruited into this), but he’s previously said he will probably serve in Congress a while then leave politics.

          Before all this, I expected him to be out of Washington by 2020.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            While not particularly relevant to the circumstances he will face as Speaker, it does seem worth mentioning that his chairmanships of two very powerful committees — Budget and then Ways & Means — have resulted in a lot of posturing but very little tangible. If that’s part of Part 2, feel free to delete this.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:

        Are there a lot of other candidates who spent as much time as Ryan did crafting his media persona and didn’t eventually run for president?

        If I was Ryan, I’d be thinking that if a Republican wins in 2016 then all of the issues of the crazy caucus dissipate and I’m the 2nd most powerful person in politics. If a Republican doesn’t win in 2016 then there’s no way in hell I’m getting my poverty agenda through anyway and can always step-down from Speaker in a big play for party victimhood (“look, even the well-intentioned, plainspoken Paul Ryan cannot work with Hillary”).Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          If you had asked me in December of 2012, or even as late as last year, “If you had to bet on someone to be the next Republican nominee for president, who would it be?”… Paul Ryan is who I would have said. Pretty easily.

          With everything coming together for a Ryan candidacy, he… expressed no interest in it whatsoever. In fact, he pretty definitively shut down “Draft Paul Ryan” efforts rather quickly with an unequival “No.” Which is the same answer he gave in 2012 when approached. And really, nothing he has done since has indicated an interest in the job.

          He might change his mind, but at this point I believe it would require changing his mind.Report

          • Avatar trizzlor says:

            Is it possible he correctly assessed Clinton’s strengths? He’s young and can wait, hell he could even leave politics for a while and then run as an outsider. Plus it sounds like the GOP has really swallowed the theory that Dems have a very shallow bench.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              I’m inclined to say “no” here. In early 2014, I would have put his odds of winning the nomination if he ran at about 50/50. I would have put his chances of beating Hillary Clinton at roughly 30% (to lowball it a bit). while a 15% chance of becoming president doesn’t sound great, it’s very unlikely that he will ever have that kind of chance again. From a tactical standpoint, if his goal was to be president, that was his opportunity. (Whereas, strategically, his decision not to run in 2012 was wise.)Report

            • Avatar Guy says:

              Remember when Chris Christie wisely held off running against a powerful-looking Obama? “Wait and see” is not a tactic I’d expect many politicians to consider given the most recent exemplar, especially not in a year without an incumbent.Report

          • Avatar trizzlor says:

            And yes, I realize I’ve selfishly moved the goalposts to “will Paul Ryan ever consider running for president in his lifetime?”Report

    • Avatar Crprod says:

      It sounds like the truism applied to the GOP for the upcoming presidential election of a “deep bench” which turned out to be just lots of warm bodies was also valid for the Speaker position.Report