Some commentators, like , dismiss the failed conservative coup against Boehner as "nothing more than a disorganized rant by petulant children." But the defection of a group of vocal conservatives almost sent the House Speakership election to a second round, something that hasn't happened since 1923, and it marks an ominous change from two years ago, when Boehner received all 141 Republican votes. Boehner is well-liked within his caucus but not feared, and this "warning shot from conservatives," , was "a sobering reminder that while he may hold one of the most powerful jobs in Washington, his power is greatly diminished. His Republican ranks are thinner in the new Congress, and many of those who retired or were defeated are moderates who ordinarily backed him."
That raises an important question, with broad implications for the next two years, and not just in Washington: Will Boehner, the country's highest-ranking Republican, be able to control his majority in the House?
No. The Speaker is now toothless: Boehner'swith President Obama sounds principled, but it's mostly just a reflection of the new reality, . Combine his narrow speakership victory and humiliating fiscal cliff "Plan B" flop in December, and its clear that Boehner "can't get enough support from within his caucus for negotiating with the president." In practical terms, that means when it comes to big votes on big issues like deficit reduction, immigration reform, and tax reform, Boehner will have to rely on "large blocs of Democratic support" to pass legislation a big no-no in the GOP. And that will just weaken him further.
Boehner will be much stronger this time around: The decision to "stop negotiating secret, back-room deals" is the best thing Boehner has done in two years, . That bodes well for his future. Forging closed-door compromises with Obama and his Democrats just let them off the hook and blurred the ideological differences between the parties, to the GOP's detriment. Boehner should have realized in 2011 that his Republican-led House should only pass Republican bills, but "let's let bygones be bygones. As far as Speaker Boehner is concerned, better late than never."
Check back two months from now: You have to feel a little bad for Boehner, . "A pragmatist and institutionalist at heart," the GOP leader "is naturally drawn to making a deal." But as we've learned over the past two years, "he 'leads' a group that is simply not interested in compromise" the very "definition of a no-win situation." His allies insist that he wanted a second term to get big things accomplished regarding America's fiscal fix, and if that's true he may well "stick around to see if he can regain control of what is a decidedly unruly House conference." But if that fails and watch what happens in the looming debt-ceiling battle Boehner might find it more rewarding to "step aside before the next election to pursue a lucrative post-congressional career as a lobbyist/rainmaker."
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