Speaker-apparent Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell struck defiant tones with the Obama Administration, but they had best look over their shoulders. There's a fire burning in the House, and it may blow up the GOP faster than Mr. Obama.
The good news from the election is that, by giving some level of power to the Republicans, the days of their party simply throwing tomatoes, thumbing their noses, and dragging their heels are officially over. They must at least appear to govern in some way.
"When you have the most historic election in over 60, 70 years, you would think the other party would understand that the American people have clearly repudiated the policies they've put forward in the last two years."
That's the spin that Boehner would like the public to consume, but, as conservative pundit Scott Galupo over at U.S. News observed:
In his victory speech, ongoing as I write, Sen.-elect Marco Rubio said it would be a 'grave mistake' for Republicans to conclude that voters have embraced them. Rather, Rubio said, it's a 'second chance -- a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be'...
I'm fairly certain that many, many freshman House Republicans are going to be rudely awakened by constituencies that aren't anywhere near as serious about cutting spending as it feels like they are right now."
The Republicans are on the party on fire, thanks to the Tea Party. Keeping it under control, though, and coming up with a consistent agenda may burn down both the GOP and the House of Representatives.
Flame throwers like "Young Gun" Eric Cantor, and the Tea Party thickhead Michelle Bachmann both want a seat of power in the House. Cantor is gunning for the House Majority Leader role, while Bachmann has come just shy of demanding the No. 4 spot.
Cantor is likely to succeed, playing ball with Mr. Boehner, and laying out a high-spin document called "Delivering on Our Commitment" which outlines his bold agenda.
Bachmann is trying to leverage her standing as a "Tea Party Founder" to ace out Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Boehner's pick for that job, the New York Times reports.
Add to that pressure from the ultra-Right-funded lobbying groups like FreedomWorks:
"Politically speaking, your only choice is to get on offense and start moving boldly ahead to repeal, replace and defund Obamacare in 2011, or risk rejection by the voters in 2012," Mr. Armey and Mr. Kibbe wrote.
Before they can take on Mr. Obama, Boehner and McConnell face a monumental pile of problems in their own caucuses. Not only was their party the architect of the mess that we're in, and solutions like TARP and the bailout, but, now the Tea Party is going to hold the flame-thrower to their feet, and try to get them to either obey the radical Right dogma or get out of the way.
In "For G.O.P., Big Ambitions Face Daunting Obstacles" appearing in the New York Times, writer Jackie Calmes points out the enormous inconsistencies between the GOP's rhetoric and reality:
In policy documents, including a blueprint this week from Representative Eric Cantor, the likely Republican majority leader in the new Congress, the party has made clear that its main proposals for creating jobs are to cut regulations and taxes -- in particular to make the Bush-era tax cuts permanent for all incomes. Extending the tax cuts, however, would add nearly $4 trillion to the debt by 2020, and hundreds of billions more in interest owed for the additional government borrowing, greatly complicating another Republican goal: balancing the budget."
They also want to scrap Federal Romneycare, which they dubbed "Obamacare" for vilification purposes. They have yet to outline, though, what their "replacement" plans will do to reduce the deficit as effectively, and insure all Americans, not just those with the means to avoid going to the Emergency Room for non-emergent care.
To date, the orange-faced, red-nosed Mr. Boehner has been more of a pie-throwing clown than the ringmaster of a well-oiled Republican circus. At times it appears that both he and the GOP leadership have misjudged the Tea Party crowd as freaks rather than lions, tigers, and pit vipers.
He has no tamer who can keep the Tea Party lions on their stands growling loudly without roaming the rest of the House of Representatives looking to devour anyone in their path. There is no snake charmer to keep the cold-blooded reptiles of Right lobbyists and think-tanks like Dick Armey from insisting that there is their way or the highway (See the Washington Post).
Boehner and McConnell can waive sticks of political dynamite at Mr. Obama in front of the media all they want. From the President's window at the White House, though, it looks more like the House of Representatives is on fire.
Which is, after all of the drubbing that Democrats took last Tuesday, the delicious irony: President Obama is the only guy that may have the bucket of water to put out the Tea Party for the GOP leadership. Without some victories on legislation, the GOP has nothing. The key to those victories: Barack Husein Obama, and something even more onerous to rankled Republicans: Compromise.
Even though both Boehner and McConnell vow to bring President Obama down in 2012, the only road to victory for them, and to keep voters from turning on the GOP again, may run through the Obama White House by striking deals rather than hunkering in around their party dogma.
Their only proposals to date are to use the same disastrous George W. Bush era free-market anti-regulation, enrich-the-rich stimulus policies that led to everything from the economic melt-down to BP's blunder in the Gulf.
Voters did not endorse a political party, or that agenda.
This was the Halloween Mid-Term, a political trick-or-treat prank played by the citizens of America on its government. Right-wing witches, weekend warriors, and whackos lit a big brown tea bag filled with doggie poo and left it gleefully flaming on the steps of the Capitol Hill.
Now they're hiding behind the hedges waiting to see Mr. Boehner lose it as he stomps it out, only to find out what the surprise was in the bag.
The problem is that, unless the GOP gets its house together and seek common solutions rather than capitulation, we will waste another two years squabbling, and making the Koch brothers and their allies a little richer while government continues to gridlock, as they planned it.
My shiny two.