I must say I am disappointed at the announcement this morning that Speaker John Boehner is backing off the big deal he and President Obama have been seeking. This likely would have been viewed as a win-win by the mainstream press and more importantly, the history books.
John Boehner could have been somebody. Boehner could have been a contender. A respected player. Someone strong and a member of the "loyal opposition." And he backs off a "big deal."
John Boehner would have been spoken about in the same terms as Speaker "Tip" O'Neil who negotiated a "big deal" with President Ronald Reagan many years ago. Tip and Gipp established a close personal relationship way back then and accomplished a "big deal."
So it looks at this moment in time, Speaker John Boehner has abandoned his dream to "go big."
WASHINGTON - House Speaker John A. Boehner abandoned efforts Saturday night to reach a comprehensive debt-reduction deal worth more than $4 trillion in savings, telling President Obama that a midsize package was the only politically possible alternative to avoid a first-ever default on the nation's mounting national debt.
Boehner (R., Ohio) told Obama - who is hosting a key meeting Sunday evening on the debt issue - that their efforts to "go big," as the speaker says, were stymied by the toughest issues: taxes and entitlements. Democrats continued to insist on tax revisions that would not pass muster in the conservative-dominated House of Representatives, and Republicans wanted cuts to programs such as Medicare and Social Security that Obama and Senate Democrats would oppose.
"Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt-reduction agreement without tax hikes. I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase," Boehner said in a statement less than 24 hours before the Obama meeting was to take place.
Unfortunately for Boehner, his backing off at this stage simply means that President Barack Obama will get full credit for any deal accomplished. The perception will be there is only one "real leader" in America. And this also elevates President Obama one step up. Much like President Bill Clinton's battle with Speaker Newt Gingrich. In Gingrich's case, it wasn't weakness as much as a clear lack of vision.
And Gingrich's further damaged himself irreparably when he successfully impeached President Clinton in the House, but didn't have enough to convict him in the United States Senate. Compounded by Gingrich's defeat in the 1998 elections when the Republicans lost "big." And then Gingrich's resignation as Speaker and his resignation from the House. And it is not surprising when we see what an ineffective candidate Newt Gingrich is in his quest for the Republican nomination. Boehner may be smarter than Gingrich in that sense. It pains me to watch another prominent Republican go down (wink-wink).
No, it wasn't pretty with Gingrich. And will Boehner have such a fate too. Maybe not Boehner directly, but this could have an impact on the general election in November 2012. Whether it is Romney or excuse the expression, Bachmann. They will have to explain "Why?" over and over again. On the defensive and have to explain the Republican lack of "real leadership."
John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books