John Boehner's ability to control his troops rests on several props. He must credibly wage the polemical war against the Democrats, especially so since he has become the de facto spokesperson of the party. If he fails in that job, as Michael Steele has failed the Republican National Committee as its Secretary, the troops will eventually revolt. How effectively he manages the propaganda wars affects how well he manages the inevitable schisms which will grow among his troops. Above all, he must present a united front to the Rats, to conservatives, to Republicans, and to the mushy middle which ultimately decides elections.
His ability to accomplish his role depends largely on his ability to appear proactive and stay off his back foot. That means he must pick his battles with an eye toward choosing fights that he can win and fights that will be approved by the people. The problem is that the media will attempt to divide the people from the representatives whom they just elected and from the policies upon which they elected those representatives. But there is, as you point out, another dimension which is that some policies which he must advance because the Republican victory was predicated upon them, run counter to the personal interests of many Rinos.
There is a Republican Party establishment which is not motivated by ideology but by careerism. Obvious examples of this mentality include people like Trent Lott who has seamlessly transitioned from Republican majority leader and spokesman to back room lobbyist. The careerist is not in the political fray to win the war and advance the common weal, he is in the game to be in the game, to be a player. Indeed, total victory is contrary to his self-interest which is why, for example, we cannot repeal income tax laws or even seriously reform them-they are a careerist's/lobbyist's/rino' s ATM machine. These people never want the problem to be solved they want it always to be their raison d'être. Do you really think that the people who profit from our byzantine tax laws really want to repeal or even reform what promises to be an equally byzantine health care system?
In this the rinos are natural allies, not of the Republicans with whom they superficially caucus, but with the Democrats who enact and expand these burdensome regulations.
One of the things that makes politics endlessly fascinating is that these issues are rarely aired, debated, or campaigned upon. All of the players, starting with the media, have a stake in shaping the issues to advance their own interests. The media want to sell advertising so they personalizes these issues and help the Democrats to demonize the players and profit from the discord which they so piously deplore. The rinos do not want to have issues put to the people on the basis, for example, of the constitutionality of the matter because their rice bowl is filled in Washington and they are quite content to see federalism die an unmourned death. The Democrats certainly do not want issues debated on their merits and they have been very successful so far in avoiding that by playing the race card-or the gender card, or the gay card, or the bigotry card, or the class card. All the while deploring the Republicans unwillingness to compromise. To some degree even conservatives are unwilling to stake their elections on basic reform of entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare. So instead they will run their election campaigns on social issues where they can or on cutting taxes and fraudulent promises of balancing the budget by cutting "waste, fraud, and abuse."
But let not cynicism prevail. Although America is not perfect, it is exceptional and it is capable of moments of sublimity; I think we are experiencing one now. Like rogue waves cruising the fetch of our far oceans, reform waves crest in America without forewarning but with immense power and inevitability. John Boehner's job is to find the sweet spot on that wave and ride it to exhaustion. If he is too far behind the sweet spot he will be left behind; if he gets ahead, he will be crushed. The good news is that he will start out with a welter of support. The next piece of good news is that he must ride the wave for only about a year or a year and a half until the Republican presidential nominee emerges who will then be responsible for representing the party and keeping it in the sweet spot.
Believe it or not, there is a point to this analogy: the special circumstance of the tea party uprising washes away many of the structural realities which normally shape American politics and this, if Boehner is clever enough, can work greatly to his advantage. The wave will force the rinos to shut up for many months. Yes, I am aware that they are trying to shape the debate even now, but the real thrust and power belongs with the conservatives. The rinos and even the administration to some extent, must give way to Boehner for a season. He will get running room and if he does not stumble he can carry the ball right up to the time it is to be handed off to the Republican presidential nominee.
This is a rare opportunity in American politics to actually change structure, to alter the architecture which permits the rinos and the Democrats to conduct elections in a parallel universe.
Thanks Whiskers for a good post.
bttt good read.