September 28, 2015

Boehner Failed to Lead

The question for Republicans is “now what?”

On Friday, conservatives celebrated John Boehner’s announced resignation. After all, the trouble with congressional Republicans isn’t the lawmakers elected in the sweeping victories of 2010 and 2014, it’s leadership that is more interested in the position of power than the principles of good governance. As we noted Friday, Boehner’s likely successor is current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He is arguably more conservative than Boehner though largely cut from the same cloth. That said, if elected speaker, he will undoubtedly face pressure to move the congressional agenda to the right. Option B is for House conservatives to rally around an alternative candidate, but Boehner’s surprise announcement left little time for a successful campaign.

Boehner also had some parting words over the weekend, echoing the biblical warning to “beware of false prophets.” He was referring to those who think holding congressional majorities means getting your way all the time, even with a president of the opposite party. So far as that goes, he’s correct that expectations have sometimes been too high. For example, shutting down the government to stop ObamaCare was never going to succeed. But what has grassroots conservatives outraged is, again, the failure of principled leadership. Boehner was such a failed leader and negotiator that he made Obama stronger than he should have been after two electoral “shellackings.” Conservatives don’t expect to roll back most of Obama’s overreach until we retake the White House, but Democrat majorities didn’t have much trouble getting things done with George W. Bush at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Is it too much to ask that a Republican Congress do likewise? Certainly we expect more than preemptive surrender at every opportunity.

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