Don’t be confused about what happened in the House of Representatives on Friday: It was a huge win for the far right, a major victory for Ted Cruz, an embarrassment for John Boehner, and, potentially, a pivotal moment that will make future dealings between the White House and congressional Republicans, if you can possibly believe it, far worse than they’ve been already.
What happened, as you probably know, is that Boehner had a bill ready to go Thursday, one he thought he had the votes to pass. Then Cruz rounded up some of the far-right members of the House GOP caucus and plotted a revolt. Boehner saw that his bill wasn’t going to pass and pulled it. Then, on Friday, Boehner and his leadership team sat down with these right-wingers and made a series of concessions to them.
It’s important to wrap your head around this. See, if you live on the same planet I live on, you think that the House of Representatives has been plenty conservative, and that Republicans there can hardly be accused of being too accommodating of Barack Obama. But if you live on tea party planet, Boehner has been a sellout. I know, I know. But it’s true.
Or it was true. Not anymore. Just read this account from Time’s Alex Rogers. He quotes winger after winger crowing about having finally won one. A Texan named Kenny Marchant said: “From the time I’ve ever been here…I’ve never seen them as responsive to the, I would call them the ‘No votes.’” He’s been there since 2005. And Steve King of Iowa was rhapsodizing. And Michele Bachmann: “What I saw in the last 24 hours is nothing short of remarkable. I couldn’t believe it. Leadership was like [point] one is reasonable, number two is reasonable. It gutted the bill, changed the bill.”