January 31, 2014
Boehner Courts a GOP Civil War
By J. Robert Smith
If you can't win, flee. Heck, if you won't even try to win, retreat. You can't make this stuff up. A day after President Obama's rousing State of the Union address to an enthralled nation, House Republicans skedaddled to Maryland's Eastern Shore. They went to crack crabs, swill cold microbrews, talk issues, yuck it up with lobbyists, and concoct more legislative "strategy." Heck, there's got to be more than one way to capitulate on measures the size of the Farm Bill?
Come to think of it, there is. In the vernacular, it's called "immigration reform," which when all the layers of rhetorical garbage are peeled off, is nothing more than a route to legalizing the illegal. But Speaker Johnny Boehner and gaggles of business interests hanker to legalize our illegal amigos, so Boehner, the dutiful, if plodding, golf buddy wants to see if he can cajole and arm-twist his fellow retreaters to go his way.
But the speaker's way on immigration reform is simply another surrender, which fits neatly with his strategy, but it can't be gulped down with even gallons of microbrews -- certainly not by grassroots conservatives and Tea Party patriots.
There aren't pejoratives adequate enough to describe and deride Boehner's resolve to tackle immigration surrender this election year. Either the speaker has one of the greatest tin ears in the history of American politics or he's got his sights set on a cushy post-speakership job and a corner office somewhere in DC. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will gladly provide references for the speaker. Those big business interests have got Johnny's back, all right.
Perhaps the speaker is pimping immigration reform from spite, having disparaged his party's grassroots for calling him out, often and loudly, on his jellyfishness. Don't discount spite's role in history. The speaker may also want to prove -- as he did with the gargantuan, wasteful farm bill that just passed -- that he can cobble together a majority coalition of House Republicans and Democrats, as he earlier threatened to do if dissenting Republicans failed to get with his program.
The only way the farm bill passed the House was with Democrat votes. Sixty-odd Republicans voted "no," meaning that there wasn't majority support in the GOP caucus for the measure. Don't put it past Boehner to pull that stunt again on immigration reform. If Boehner goes ahead with an immigration reform gambit based on an unholy alliance of petting zoo Republicans and Democrats, he invites an ugly civil war in the party. In an critical election year, no less.
Don't underestimate the rancor and division that will result if Boehner stays focused on immigration reform this year. More importantly, don't be surprised when a Boehner immigration reform drive drives away the GOP grassroots. Staying home on Election Day is a time-honored means of protest by disaffected voters. This happened in the 2012 presidential contest, when the lackluster Mitt Romney lost because about four million voters decided there wasn't much reason to turn out, Mitt not showing much gumption.
House districts are drawn in such precise ways that drop offs in GOP grassroots voting may not cost Republicans the lower chamber -- that's a very qualified "may" -- but the Senate hangs in the balance.
U.S. senators are elected statewide, of course. Most Senate seats up for grabs in November will be highly competitive and narrowly decided. If the GOP grassroots opts out of these contests, the Democrats will surely retain the Senate. Note that politically shrewd Democrats are insisting their party shift focus and resources away from House contests to retain the Senate.
Democrats understand that losing Congress effectively shuts down Mr. Obama's presidency in many critical aspects. Yes, the president has threatened to rule by executive order, but there are practical limits to what he can do and legislative remedies -- provided a Republican Congress had the moxy to intervene.
As the acerbic Ann Coulter wrote about the politics of immigration reform:
How are Republicans going to square that circle? It's not their position on amnesty that immigrants don't like; it's Republicans' support for small government, gun rights, patriotism, the Constitution and capitalism.
Coulter was referring to a report released by longtime conservative stalwart Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly supports her analysis with hard data. The conclusion is simple: illegals are pro-big government. Legalized and voting, they swell Democrats' ranks. As Coulter opined, "At the current accelerated rate of immigration -- 1.1 million new immigrants every year -- Republicans will be a fringe party in about a decade."
Game over, folks. If Boehner and the GOP hands Democrats an unwarranted victory on immigration reform, then less than ten years from now, Mark Levin's astute Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic will be quaint. Levin's Liberty Declaration... of Independence will be the hot seller.
Boehner's courting -- and must know he's courting -- a crackup of the Republican Party. House Republicans -- like all Republicans and conservatives -- should focus like laser beams on 1) exploiting ObamaCare's crass failures and growing unpopularity with voters; 2) aggressively pursuing the Obama scandals; 3) offering a "liberty" agenda, which goes heavy on reviving the nation's anemic economy and downsizing and reforming the federal government. That's a recipe for electoral success in 2014.
If its civil war the speaker wants, its civil war he'll get. Establishment Republicans may have the dough, but the grassroots outnumbers them roughly three to one. The commitment and passion are with the grassroots. At war's end, it's the speaker and his ilk who'll be trundling off on yet another retreat -- and, this time, for good.