Four years later, is the GOP finally ready to legislate?

It’s been a rough few months for the GOP. Barack Obama is no one-term President; Mitch McConnell’s dream has been consigned to the dustbin of history. The only reason John Boehner wasn’t exiled to K Street is that his party retained the House through gerrymandering — Dems’ slim command of the aggregate popular vote only netted the party eight additional seats. The GOP also lost high profile Senate races to progressive Dems in Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

But somewhat shockingly, the party appears to be embracing logic by distancing itself from the right-wing extremism that saw it spanked raw in November.

According to The Hill, at a private meeting on Tuesday, Boehner said, in previously unreported remarks, that it was “time to deal” with immigration reform — an issue dear to President Obama — and that a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House have a deal that they’re ready to advance.

“My theory was, if these folks could work this out, it’d be a big step in the right direction,” Boehner said. “So I would think you’d hear a lot more about immigration reform on the House side soon.”

The details haven’t been divulged, but Boehner said lawmakers involved include “some of the hard heads on our side, and some of the people involved on immigration reform on their side.” The latter makes it seem likely that a path to citizenship is involved in the deal.

Who’d have thought that bipartisanship might finally incorporate the wishes of the Democratic Party’s base? And it’s being driven by the House of Representatives, to boot.

But wait! There are even more signs that Republicans are ready to eschew the intransigence of the last four years.

According to The Hill, again, former Republican Congressman gone-MSNBC-turncoat Joe Scarborough, “tested his Republican bona fides at the National Review Institute summit on Saturday, and emerged a favorite of the conservative crowd.”

And Scarborough won over the mob, despite reading Republican brass the Riot Act.

Scarborough…got the panel’s biggest round of applause when he savaged the record of former President George W. Bush.

“Bush was a big-government Republican,” Scarborough said. “When you say this and start going down the list, some Republicans get offended…but he completely muddied the brand in terms of what has always been our core issue….we are the party of small government…what George W. Bush did over eight years was destroy our brand.”

Scarborough has been criticized by some on the right for breaking with the party on a variety of issues, including gun control and what he’s called the GOP’s tax increase “absolutism.” On Saturday, Scarborough criticized the GOP for not pushing to break up the big banks and for embracing fringe issues, like contraception, on the campaign trail.

Maybe Republicans — particularly those in the House — have realized that they need to start reaching across the aisle if they want to make gains in 2014 and 2016. It would help explain why Michele Bachmann failed to get a single cosponsor for her umpteenth attempt to repeal Obamacare.

In the long run, this could be bad news for Democrats. As the GOP seeks to widen its appeal, it might actually succeed. But it’s good news for Americans. Republican obstructionism — the manufactured debt ceiling crisis, and the fiscal cliff creation and aversion that it led to — has only damaged an already sluggish economy.

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.