Speaking to the conservative Ripon Society on Tuesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) admitted that he screwed up the public relations aspect of the fiscal cliff negotiations:
Looking back, what I should have done the day after the election was to make it clear the House has passed a bill to extend all of the current tax rates, the House has passed a bill to replace the sequester with cuts in mandatory spending, and the Senate ought to do its work. We’re ready, able and willing to work with the Senate as soon as they produce a bill. It should have been what I said. You know, again, hindsight is 20-20.
Instead, Boehner opened the negotiations with a press conference announcing Republican concessions. In an attempt to appear temperate and moderate, Boehner discarded the principle that Republicans would not embrace higher taxes – a move that Obama quickly turned against Boehner, insisting that higher taxes would be the solution to any debt crisis.
Boehner now recognizes the problem with his strategy, and vows not to engage in any one-on-one negotiations with Obama in the future; instead, he says he will only allow bills to be passed in the House, then in the Senate, as provided for by the Constitution. The House threat to Boehner’s speakership, which was covered in depth by Breitbart News, apparently frightened Boehner enough to change course. “You have no idea the suspicions and the undercurrents that [negotiations with Obama] caused, frankly, a lot of my members,” said Boehner. “It really has, in fact, caused somewhat of a breach that I’ve been in the middle of trying to repair.”
Boehner is engaged in rehabilitating his image, attempting to overcome perceptions that he has the tendency to cave to President Obama:
Some of our members don’t realize that while I may be a nice enough guy, and I get along with people, when I was voting I had the 8th most conservative voting record in the House. But a lot of our newer members – they don’t know that. And so, you know, they think I’m some squish, that I’m ready to sell them out in a heartbeat, when obviously, most of you in this room know that that ain’t quite who I am.
The best way to overcome that perception is to stand up to the bully president. Unless Boehner embraces that truth, he will continue to lose favor among members of his own caucus.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).