The left thinks they have. I think they’re right. Here are headlines from each of the flagship establishment publications: from the New York Times: “Boehner Gains Strong Backing from House Republicans.” And from the Washington Post: “Republicans wave the white flag.”
Of course it’s all about the current negotiations over the fiscal cliff and the frittering away of whatever leverage the House has in an attempt to placate the president as well as the voters who seem to be buying the message that they are the ones standing in the way of a compromise.
The Times makes it sound like a victory for Boehner. One has to be very careful in reading the Times, as always, because a victory from their point of view is a defeat from ours:
As Mr. Boehner digs in for a tense fiscal confrontation with President Obama, the strong embrace from a broad spectrum of the rank and file may empower him as he tries to strike a deal on spending cuts and tax increases that spares the country a recession, without costing Republicans too much in terms of political principle.
It’s fun to parse this paragraph. The “broad spectrum” is meant to read: tax pledge holdouts are either being marginalized or ignored altogether. It’s that strong centrist position, the one of waffle and compromise of principle, where the real work of politics is done. And the writer acknowledges it, too, when she notes “without costing Republicans too much in terms of political principle.” It’s those nasty principles that keep getting in the way of doing a deal.
What’s also interesting is what isn’t said: where is the White House on this? Where are they giving in, where are they violating their principles? Nothing is said about that. It’s all about the caving of the Republicans, moving towards the White House’s position.
Boehner now enjoys support from Eric Cantor, the House majority leader who has signed on to the Boehner bill to raise revenues, and he’s gotten rid of those pesky fiscal conservatives that gummed up the works in various committees. It’s now clear sailing ahead.
Dana Milbank, writing in the Washington Post, was much more direct:
[Boehner] is hoping to lead his fractious GOP to an orderly surrender. The question is no longer whether Republicans will give on taxes; they already have. All that remains to be negotiated is how they will increase taxes, and whether they will do it before or after the government reaches the “fiscal cliff.”
It’s over. Just the details need to be clarified, ratified, and signed into law.
He repeats the same message: the polls support the president, and are blaming the Republicans over the alleged “impasse” in Washington:
A poll by the Pew Research Center found that 53 percent of Americans would blame Republicans for sending the nation off the cliff and only 27 percent would blame Obama.
And so, with the removal of fiscal conservatives and the caving in of other Republicans, the deal is done. One of Boehner’s lieutenants, Rep. Pete Roskam of Illinois (whose Freedom Index is an expectedly weak 64) surrendered:
House Republicans are prepared to get to yes. House Republicans are not prepared to get to foolish, and it is foolish to reject President Obama’s own self-described architecture of $3 in spending cuts for every dollar in new revenue.
Milbank nails it:
Coming from a bunch that liked to say they wouldn’t allow a dollar of new revenue even if it came with $10 in spending cuts, this white flag is as big as a bedsheet.