Happy New Year, John Boehner!

Let me end the year with a kind word for John Boehner.

I know. Boehner is a hard man to like. The tan, the tears, the drunk's diction. The Cromnibus.  And so on. He always seems to be going soft on our conservative convictions and undercutting our favorite conservative firebrands. Here's Sean Hannity's version of the arguments against him.

Still, all that said and with nothing but love and admiration for Sean, I can't help but notice that under Boehner — and largely because of Boehner, because Boehner outsmarted President Obama in the 2013 budget negotiations — federal spending has declined over a five year period for the first time since the post World War II cutbacks. And because of this, as the economy has struggled to a sputtering recovery despite Democrat mismanagement, the deficit has been sharply reduced.

You can't get more anti-government than Ayn Rand, so here's Jack Wakeland writing from an Objectivist perspective on the sequester Boehner stuffed down the president's throat: “The sequester is the only policy that has reduced spending by the federal government. In fiscal year 2013, total federal spending decreased 1.5% to 2.0% in real, inflation-adjusted dollars. And it promises to do so again in 2014. The FY 2013 sequester is the first time in my lifetime that federal spending shrank in absolute terms. After the ramp-down from WWII, the only decreases in federal spending were decreases as a percentage of GDP, e.g., during the Clinton-Gingrich term in 1995-96. These occurred only because GDP expanded more quickly than spending.”

Also under Boehner — and also largely because of then-minority leader Boehner (and the likewise much-maligned-by-conservatives Mitch McConnell in the Senate) — the disaster of Obamacare is 100% attributable to the Democrats. It hasn't got a single Republican fingerprint on it. Conservatives complain that Boehner hasn't defunded the monster, but let's stipulate for just a moment that conservatives tend to complain a lot and that not every ideal conservative outcome is in fact practical or realistic. In that case, Boehner — while laboring under a Democrat House, Senate and White House! — actually helped arrange a pretty good, maybe even the best, outcome. Not only did Republicans go on to win the House after that vote, it may well have paved the way for the idiotic and oppressive bill to be scrapped and replaced in the years to come.

Now, okay, Boehner may not believe everything hardcore conservatives believe...  or in fact, he may and may simply find it useful not to say so. But his job is not to lead the nation. His job is not to inspire the base. His job is not to stand as a beacon for our ideals. His job is to organize and mobilize an enormous collection of scorched cats (aka Republican congressmen) into a political guerilla army so that they can blow up the tracks beneath what once looked like a Progressive juggernaut — and is now beginning to look kind of like smoking wreckage. If the speaker equivocates, if he deals, if he horse trades, compromises, accepts losses where losses are inevitable and makes a virtue out of necessity where virtue itself is not available — well, yeah, it can make a true believer crazy, but it may actually get a lot of practical and important stuff done, too.

So what the hell — Happy New Year, Speaker John!  You enter 2015 with leftists at your throat, conservatives on your back and reinforcements on the way. If I'm right about you, all of that gives us good reason to approach the New Year with hope.

Let it be so. Happy New Year to us all.

Also read: Obama's 12 Biggest Accomplishments of 2014