As soon as I saw what John Boehner had done, I knew that the folks at Red State would lose their minds. While speaking at the Middletown, Ohio, Rotary Club, Speaker Boehner dismissed the possibility of truly repealing ObamaCare and mocked his colleagues in the House whom lack the political courage to pass some kind of immigration reform.

On ObamaCare, Boehner said repeal wasn’t even the goal. The goal was to “repeal and replace.” But, as soon as he began to describe what replacing would mean, he made it clear that much of what had been done could not be undone:

“The challenge is that Obamacare is the law of the land. It is there and it has driven all types of changes in our health care delivery system. You can’t recreate an insurance market over night.

“Secondly, you’ve got the big hospital organizations buying up doctor’s groups because hospitals get reimbursed two or three times doctor’s do for the same procedure just because it’s a hospital. Those kinds of changes can’t be redone.

“So the biggest challenge we are going to have is — I do think at some point we’ll get there — is the transition of Obamacare back to a system that empowers patients and doctors to make choices that are good for their own health as opposed to doing what the government is dictating they should do.”

In other words, repeal is out of the question and “replace” means “tinker.”

Over at Red State, Daniel Horowitz is apoplectic:

Which means that he has no intention to repeal it.

It’s funny how we warned those who opposed the effort to defund Obamacare that they would never repeal it at a later date. They denied the charge at the time; now they are embracing it.

Maybe even more troubling to the base is Boehner’s attitude about immigration reform.

“Here’s the attitude. Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,” Boehner whined before a luncheon crowd at Brown’s Run County Club in Madison Township.

“We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to … They’ll take the path of least resistance.”

Boehner said he’s been working for 16 or 17 months trying to push Congress to deal with immigration reform.

“I’ve had every brick and bat and arrow shot at me over this issue just because I wanted to deal with it. I didn’t say it was going to be easy,” he said.

Of course, a majority in the House wants to pass immigration reform, so Boehner could do it tomorrow if he was willing to put up with the grumbling in his own party. If he thinks it would cost him his leadership position, then he’s lacking political courage, too.

Here’s Horowitz’s response:

Yes, Mr. Boehner. We actually want to solve the immigration problem.

We want to deal with the problem of criminals being let out of jail.

We want to deal with the problem of Obama suspending deportations.

We want to deal with birthright citizenship and other magnets that allow foreigners to violate our sovereignty and take advantage of the welfare state.

We want to make immigration work for the American people, not for your donors.

Sadly, you have no interest in joining us in combating the President’s malfeasance. You are the one who is too scared to make hard decisions. It’s a lot easier to go along with the political class and cowardly hide behind the misleading canard of “reform” just for the purpose of pushing the same failed amnesty that has engendered endless cycles of illegal immigration and that is already spawning a new wave. It’s akin to saying conservatives are cowards for not dealing with “healthcare reform” because they don’t support Obamacare.

In the aftermath of the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee did a study to figure out why they lost and what they needed to do differently to win in the future. They basically concluded that they lost because they sounded too much like Red State. They couldn’t ignore the need for immigration reform anymore. They couldn’t continue to oppose gay equality. The New York Times’ Tom Edsall described the problem this way:

There is at least one crucial problem that the authors, all members of the establishment wing of the party, address only peripherally and with kid gloves: the extreme conservatism of the party’s primary and caucus voters — the people who actually pick nominees. For over three decades, these voters have episodically shown an inclination to go off the deep end and nominate general election losers in House and Senate races — or, in the case of very conservative states and districts, general election winners who push the party in the House and Senate to become an instrument of obstruction.

Ironically, it was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who conceived of the Party of No strategy that the GOP has followed with almost psychotic glee. President Obama’s reelection did not alter that strategy one iota. Somehow, the folks at Red State took the strategy seriously, as if it were about principle instead of a failed attempt to destroy Obama’s presidency.

So, now the Republican Establishment has a problem. They cannot govern according to their own lights. They literally cannot lead their own caucuses. When they whine about the results, they invite nothing more than simple ridicule.

[Cross-posted at Booman Tribune]

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at