Friday, November 26, 2010

Boehner's Challenges

I found Jonathan Bernstein's post on the political challenges facing John Boehner quite good.

Boehner has to satisfy people in the Republican base who watch Rush, Beck, and Hannity without passing any of the big crazy things they want, since Democrats control the White House and the Senate. As commenters note, a lot of whether he can keep the base happy is going to depend on how much right-wing media figures feel like demanding of him. Perhaps they'll demand the impossible. Perhaps they'll be okay with it if he delivers only minor symbolic things. I really don't know.

1 comment:

draghkhar said...

I agree that Boehner won't be able to deliver too much substantively that will appease the Tea Party crowd. However, that won't really matter too much. If you look at recent history on both sides of the aisle, partisans have been very forgiving of their sides' failings in Congress. In 1996, the Republicans retained many of the seats they took in their 1994 "revolution", only losing a net 9 seats and retaining control -- this is in spite of one of the worst GOP candidates in recent memory, Bob Dole. In 2008, the Democrats hadn't yet managed to withdraw from Iraq -- in fact, they didn't even manage to stop the surge announced in January 2007, right after being sworn in. Nonetheless, they campaigned on the same concept of withdrawing from Iraq as before and, aided by a global financial meltdown, went on to pick up additional seats in lots of marginal districts (which they just lost again this month).

I think the lesson is that partisans can and do forgive shortcomings of their Congresspeople. However, the current president and presidential candidates may have an impact on the election (e.g., Clinton looked better than Dole, which helped pick up seats, and Bush cast a pall over the GOP in 2008). Looking toward 2012, if the economy recovers as projected, Obama should have a marginally positive influence on the Democratic Congressional candidates, although maybe not enough to retake the house. Also, since the map is so tough on the Senate side (Claire McCaskill in MO, Bill Nelson in FL, Sherrod Brown in OH, Bob Casey Jr. in PA, Jim Webb in VA, Debbie Stabenow in MI, Herb Kohl in WI, Bob Menendez in NJ), the GOP could potentially recapture it.