A year ago, congressional Republicans were an exuberant bunch. Riding high after massive midterm gains, and with President Obama’s approval ratings faltering, GOP leaders and rank-and-file members felt very good about themselves, their standing, their agenda, and their future.
A year later, Republicans aren’t smiling quite as often. Thanks to their style of “leadership,” the GOP-dominated Congress has seen the bottom fall out of its public support, while Obama’s numbers steadily improve. Republicans haven’t gotten anything done, and probably won’t have anything to show for the entire Congress by the end of the year.
This has not gone unnoticed by the GOP lawmakers themselves, and Jake Sherman reported late yesterday that Republicans are now fighting amongst themselves over just about everything.
A year to the day since Ohio’s John Boehner and 87 eager freshmen took Washington by storm, House Republicans are bruised from battle, irritated with each other and have lost trust in their leadership.
The president whose agenda they came to Washington to stop is vowing to spend the year scoring political points against Republicans now, and they don’t have much leverage against him. […]
All told, the House Republicans are going into 2012 weaker and more divided than when they took control of the chamber a year ago. […]
Around the leadership circle — comprising Boehner, Cantor, Whip Kevin McCarthy and their allies — there’s more disunity, grumbling and finger-pointing than there has been all year.
Reading the piece, I’m not at all clear how this gets better. The party doesn’t have a policy agenda, per se, and has no credible shot at completing a legislative wish list. There’s no strategy, no message, and no policies that (a) enjoy broad caucus-wide support; and (b) might stand a chance of passing.
There are disagreements among the rank and file, among the leaders, between the leaders and the rank and file, and between House Republicans and Senate Republicans. Within the caucus, there’s reportedly “a growing deficit of trust.”
Not only is this a recipe for failure, it’s also the kind of dynamic that may ultimately put John Boehner’s job in jeopardy.
For what it’s worth, the piece has a tidbit of good news: apparently House Republicans just want to get the payroll-tax-cut fight out of the way, and don’t intend to re-litigate the fight that proved to be fiasco for the party in December. That suggests the one item on the White House’s 2012 to-do list may come together after all.
Regardless, House Republicans will gather for a Baltimore retreat later this month to ponder a course for the rest of the year. By all accounts, their discussion will be ugly.