For two years, the president has seen House Republican leaders as the key to legislative progress, and he has pursued direct talks with Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader. That avenue of negotiation proved fruitless, in large part because House Republicans were deeply divided about any compromise that Mr. Obama would accept. The failure led Mr. Boehner to tell his colleagues this week that he would not be engaging in any more one-on-one negotiations with the president. ...NYT
This seems to be as kind of coda to a piece of nastiness that has made it hard to respect John Boehner. Boehner has had a tendency to stalk out of talks with in the White House. A cold, personal rudeness on the part of the Speaker, mixed with ineptitude, has marked these incidents, or at least that's what has come through in reports of the incidents.
At the beginning of this week, it was Mitch McConnell who stepped in.
... Negotiations over the fiscal impasse pointed to a new and unlikely path as more fiscal deadlines approach. In this case, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader and a veteran legislative dealmaker, initiated negotiations with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., which instigated talks between them and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada. ...NYT
The result is some measure of success -- for everyone but Boehner. The new negotiations seem to have presented a new way of handing the radical Republican fringe in the House.
“I think this is the fourth time that we’ve seen this play out, where Boehner finally relents and lets the House consider a measure, and Democrats provide the votes to pass it,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat. “When they reach the point where their hand is forced, where there’s no other place to turn, they’ll do the right thing.”
That realization may lead to a more formalized process to begin bipartisan negotiations in the Senate to put pressure on the House. ...NYT
Let's hope they're not too optimistic about this.
It may be embarrassing for the Speaker -- and it's always possible that the new House will not let Boehner keep his job thanks to the failure of "Plan B" and, finally, the fury over funding for Sandy. Or, Biden and McConnell's success may save him. And it looks as though the route through the Senate may make it possible to get legislative action in Obama's second term that Republicans have tried to block.
Whether Boehner can hang on was also the subject of a discussion on NPR this morning. John Boehner is nothing if not tenacious and may well survive. Maintain some respect with all members of the House? Well, maybe...
As for the in-spite-of-Boehner agreement, WaPo reports that "the question now is whether that victory of pragmatism over ideology offers a new model of governing as President Obama approaches his second term and the shattered Republican Party tries to regroup."
And the Post's answer is "no," or at least "probably not." Fringe Republicans -- tea partyers -- are feeling burned, resentful.
“I know a lot of folks walked out with a real bad taste in their mouths,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), a freshman who has emerged as a leading critic of Boehner’s since the speaker removed him from a plum committee assignment last month. “It wasn’t Republicans clapping and cheering. It was Democrats.”
Republicans insist that this will not become a pattern in the House, where governance by “a majority of the majority” has been the watchword since the late 1990s. ...WaPo
David Ignatius thinks Obama was the loser in the "cliff" deal. Obama showed a kind of loyalty to the pattern of dealing with Boehner that was not helpful and showed bad judgment. Ignatius thinks the President should lead forcefully, "governing over Congress’s head as Ronald Reagan did, if necessary."
Obama had seemed poised a few weeks ago to become at last the political leader the country needs. He won a brilliant election victory, using political tools so sophisticated that Republican strategists have been trying ever since to reverse- engineer them so they can avoid humiliating defeats. Obama spoke to the nation after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in a voice that was truly presidential in its restrained expression of deep grief. In short, Obama seemed ready to lead.
And then what happened? In his December fiscal negotiations with the GOP, Obama repeated many of the mistakes he made earlier in his first term. Rather than come to the table with a grand vision of his own — a real strategy for cutting the deficit and the entitlement programs that drive it — he played a poker game of incremental bargaining with House Speaker John Boehner. This was an unwise approach even before Boehner demonstrated his incompetence by failing to pass his “Plan B” alternative through the GOP-controlled House. ...WaPo
Republicans aren't alone in having internal problems. Democrats are in trouble, too.
... A Democratic internal war may be on the way."
"Just as Republicans were so divided over taxes - from failing to pass their own "Plan B" bill last week, to their leaders splitting votes on last night's legislative package - Democrats are about to endure an emotional debate about one of their own bedrock principles: the protection of programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. ...Buzzfeed via Political Wire