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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Boehner, Burke, and the Big Lebowski

At The Christian Science Monitor, Francine Kiefer details Speaker Boehner's efforts to nudge his GOP colleagues toward embracing immigration reform. The key word is nudge:  he cannot dictate to them and he is not trying to do so.  Boehner's style is quite different from the headstrong Newt Gingrich, as Peter Boyer explained at the start of his speakership:

Gingrich’s style, and his Speaker-as-Prime Minister approach, facilitated the famous Clinton pivot, insuring the triangulator a second term that outlasted Gingrich’s tenure as Speaker. When I asked Boehner whether he saw the Republican victory of 2010, which was at least as decisive as Gingrich’s, as a mandate, he seemed almost to recoil. “No, no, noooooo,” he said. “I have watched people in the past deal with this issue, whether it’s Speaker Gingrich, or Speaker Pelosi, or President  Obama. And we made a very conscious decision that we were not going to go down that path. The tone that we set is very important. You saw it on Election Night, and you’ve seen it since.”

Whereas Gingrich consciously followed the lead of Woodrow Wilson (albeit the pro-leadership Wilson of Constitutional Government and executive office), Boehner is more reminiscent of Edmund Burke:
But whatever the distinguished few may have been, it is the substance and mass of the body which constitutes its character and must finally determine its direction. In all bodies, those who will lead, must also, in a considerable degree, follow. They must conform their propositions to the taste, talent, and disposition, of those whom they wish to conduct...
Or maybe he's more like The Dude in The Big Lebowski.  As the Sam Elliot character put it:
The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners