POOR BOEHNER…. Some aspects of House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) job are pretty easy. Now that moderates have been largely purged from the caucus, and voters have helped pare down the caucus to a trim 178 members, Boehner at least has ideological cohesion on his side.
Like a surfer riding the heavy waves before a hurricane, Boehner, a conservative with a penchant for compromise, has spent the past few months trying to harness the anger of the GOP base without allowing his conference to veer too far to the right. […]
Long before the tea parties or Wilson’s outburst, Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had struggled to moderate the rhetorical excesses of House conservatives hammering away on Obama’s birth certificate, decrying the creation of “death panels” and ferreting out signs of creeping socialism.
Sources say they have been especially wary of the possible damage inflicted on the party’s reputation by bomb-throwing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who last fall called for an investigation into whether members of Congress are “pro-America or anti-America.”
If Bachmann becomes the face of congressional Republicans, the GOP’s numbers may shrink even more. But if Boehner takes steps to rein her in, and acknowledge her tenuous relationship with reality, the base will be livid.
I don’t imagine Boehner would turn to me for advice, but I suspect one thing the Republican leadership might consider is exercising some control over the caucus’ media work. One recent analysis of Bachmann’s “surging national media exposure” found the right-wing Minnesotan appears on national television every nine days. Boehner could very easily say, “Michele, we’d like to give some vulnerable incumbents a chance to have some airtime.”
As for Democrats, word that GOP leaders are “wary” of Bachmann’s antics should point to a valuable weakness for the minority. Every time Bachmann comes up with some crazy thought, the push should be the same: what does John Boehner have to say about that? Does he agree? Is he willing to concede she’s gone too far?