As the GOP struggles to whip up enough votes to pass Speaker of the House John Boehner’s bill, even the flame throwers such as Ann Coulter are saying that it must pass.
But the tea party freshmen, possibly enamored of their own moral superiority, aren’t convinced. I had admired the tea party and praised them for standing firm on taxes. But now, with success in their grasp, they threaten to hand a victory to a president who regards raising taxes as the Holy Grail.
Charles Krauthammer extols the conservatives in the House but he explains why they must pass the Boehner bill:
I have every sympathy with the conservative counterrevolutionaries. Their containment of the Obama experiment has been remarkable. But reversal – rollback, in Cold War parlance – is simply not achievable until conservatives receive a mandate to govern from the White House.
Lincoln is reputed to have said: I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky. I don’t know whether conservatives have God on their side (I keep getting sent to His voice mail), but I do know that they don’t have Kentucky – they don’t have the Senate, they don’t have the White House. And under our constitutional system, you cannot govern from one house alone. Today’s resurgent conservatism, with its fidelity to constitutionalism, should be particularly attuned to this constraint, imposed as it is by a system of deliberately separated – and mutually limiting – powers.
Given this reality, trying to force the issue – turn a blocking minority into a governing authority – is not just counter-constitutional in spirit but self-destructive in practice.
The tea party is not being asked to surrender its ideals, which members have successfully put forward since the midterms, but to recognize and work within our system of government. That should be a no-brainer.
If the tea party does self-destruct over the Boehner bill, it will be a shame. Peggy Noonan has a great summary of how the tea party revived the GOP… and how the GOP must save the tea party from its worst instincts:
The Republican establishment reasserted itself this week, and good thing, too, because the establishment was right. It said Republicans in the House should back and pass the Boehner bill on the debt ceiling because it goes in the right directions, contains spending cuts but not taxes, and is viable. So accept victory, avert crisis, and get it to the Senate.
The establishment was being conservative in the Burkean sense: acknowledges reality, respect it, and make the most progress possible within it. This has not always been true of them. They spent the first decade of this century backing things a truly conservative party would not have dreamed of-careless wars, huge spending and, most scandalously, a dreamy and unconservative assumption that it would all work out because life is sweet and the best thing always happens. They were mostly led by men and women who had never been foreclosed on and who assumed good luck, especially unearned good luck, would continue. They were fools, and they lost control of their party when the tea party rose up, rebuking and embarrassing them. Then the tea party saved them by not going third party in 2009-10. And now the establishment has come forward to save the tea party, by inching it away from the cliff and reminding it the true battles are in 2012, and after. Let’s hope the tea party takes the opportunity.
P.S. You gotta love Peggy’s description of White House spokesman Jay Carney as standing there “looking like a ferret with flop sweat” as he tried to persuade the press that President Obama is still relevant to this process. The only thing that could make him relevant again is the failure of the Boehner bill.