Take a couple of days off from blogging only to return to the House Republican conference blowing themselves up. Just as they have done in the past the Republican conference, egged on by Eric Cantor, submarined their Speaker, blew up a two month bipartisan deal to extend the payroll tax relief package, and then had to quickly withdraw from the field of battle after taking incoming from President Obama, Senate Democrats, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and Senate Republicans. Speaker Boehner looked like he was in shock when he announced his surrender.
So what happened? The Republican House Conference, in their heart of hearts, is really opposed to this tax cut. In order for them to swallow what they are afraid to admit they are opposed to, they wanted steep concessions from Democrats. Although they got the expedited review they sought on the pipeline issue that was not really the victory they thought it was. And as they looked at the deal and realized they would be back at it in two months they rebelled before they thought about how the endgame would be played out. Everyone knows that the Conference undercut the Speaker, who had agreed to the deal with Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid. When the rug got pulled out from under the Speaker by Eric Cantor the conference was on the way to disaster. If I were a member of that caucus I would be holding Cantor responsible for the political disaster this episode brought.
And although the Republican Presidential candidates have stayed away from the intramural tussle between House and Senate (Republicans) the impact on the Republican brand cannot be considered favorable. And that has to be a good thing for President Obama and Democrats downticket. The Wall Street Journal summed it up:
GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.
From Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor: A very Merry Christmas to President Obama and the Democratic Party.