Really? That’s not how I saw things unfold, but I’ve been wrong before. So here’s Fred Barnes:
Republicans are united behind him. When the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the stronghold of House conservatives, met last week, Stockman was among those who rose to praise Boehner. And Mulvaney had nothing but kind words for the speaker. “I have been very pleased with his leadership since January,” Mulvaney told me. “I have no complaints.”
The votes since Labor Day on continuing resolutions (CRs) to block Obamacare while continuing government spending reflect the wave of unity behind Boehner. On defunding Obamacare only Scott Rigell of Virginia voted no. On delaying the health care law’s implementation, Republicans were unanimous. On delaying the individual mandate and eliminating the insurance subsidy for members of Congress and their staff, just 12 Republicans voted no. And on postponing the mandate and requiring a House-Senate conference to negotiate a compromise on spending and Obamacare, only 9 Republicans balked.
In mid-January, House Republicans gathered in Williamsburg, Virginia, for a retreat that turned out to have far-reaching consequences. Republicans still talk glowingly about the “Williamsburg spirit.” They regard it as historic. Indeed, it was.
Two things happened. Republicans had lost only eight House seats in the 2012 election, but with Obama’s victory the national mood seemed to have swerved in a liberal direction. Boehner and the House leadership, however, took the party in the opposite direction. It was a startling change, an unexpected but near-total victory for House conservatives. And along with that, opposition to Obama’s agenda was significantly stiffened.
The display of unity has been the only positive effect (so far) of the showdown and the shutdown. There’s still behind-the-scenes friction between the Tea Party and the GOP establishment, but for better and worse, that’s the Tea Party’s job. (More on that later, perhaps.)
Boehner seemed to me to be a Speaker dragged into the shutdown by a particular caucus, not the leader who rallied his entire party to a cause. He’s smartly stood his ground, however, because as I’ve written before, the GOP is now “pot committed” to the shutdown. Although with the smacking around the Tea Party is getting from the Democrats and from the MSM (but I repeat myself), and the likelihood that Boehner and the Establishment will look like the grownups when a budget deal is finally brokered…
…well, let’s just say the Tea Party might have overplayed its hand. They’ll have a harder time of it, the next time they need to drag Boehner & Co over the top for the next big battle.