Monday, December 06, 2010

New Yorker: Will John Boehner control the Tea Party Congress?

The emergence of the Tea Party, Boehner says, forced upon Republicans, in one cycle, a rebranding that otherwise might have taken the Party a generation to achieve. The channelling of the Tea Party transformed the House Republicans. When the 112th Congress convenes, next month, a third of the Republican members will be freshmen, bound to a mood of deep disaffection. “None of these folks are coming in saying, ‘Mommy, may I?’ ” Newt Gingrich, the Republican former House Speaker, observes.

That presents a challenge to Boehner, who has served for twenty years and certainly noticed that, during the campaign, some Republican candidates made a point of not pledging to vote for him as Speaker. But Boehner aggressively wooed the insurgents, spending much of the summer travelling, often by motor coach, to campaign events—he attended more than a hundred and sixty—and donating millions of dollars from his own campaign chest to the challengers. He adopted the overheated Tea Party rhetoric in vowing to dismantle the Obama health-care plan (“this monstrosity”), and, after the election, he announced a renewal of the Republican moratorium on budgetary earmarks and forswore domestic travel by military jet, a relished perk of his predecessors.