Republicans: A House Divided

The payroll tax extension debacle exposed the ongoing rift in the Republican party better than anything else this year, and apparently it has the GOP a teeny bit worried.

Via The Hill:

Republican lawmakers said they are frustrated with the perceived tension between the Speaker and his top lieutenant, especially heading into an election year that will bring a fierce battle with the Democrats for control of the House.

The stinging payroll-tax defeat has left many in the House GOP exasperated, with some publicly and privately questioning their leaders. A GOP insider said the tensions between Boehner and Cantor loyalists will reverberate into next year, and that the House Republican Conference could be in utter disarray in January and February.

What a lovely thought. The problem, it seems, is that Boehner actually kind of lives in reality, where some of the others do not, as we know.

“We have to pick our fights,” Boehner said, according to a Republican on the call.

The leak weakened Boehner’s hand because it appeared he was on an island battling against the rest of his leadership team.

According to a lawmaker familiar with the situation, Cantor privately denied that his office had anything to do with the leak.

The episode was the culmination of a year fraught with high-stakes legislative brinksmanship and different ideas on how to lead a conference antsy for change, amid deal-making with a Democratic-controlled Senate and White House.

On this, Boehner was right, and later in the article it expands on what he said to the caucus, telling them that failure to approve the extensions would paint them all as Scrooges. Indeed, but the more telling part of the article is how resistant these freshman are to any form of compromise.

If, as Rachel Maddow theorized, there is an internal fight to oust Boehner in favor of Cantor, then that would be representative of the larger ideological battle raging in the party right now. The key question: Do Republicans turn hard right or continue to lean toward the center? If Cantor takes over, consider that a victory for hard right ideologues. If Boehner remains, I suspect the internal divide will render the entire Republican caucus ineffective and neutered for the remainder of the term.

The takeaway? Replace these lunatics with people who might actually get something done.


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