How Safe is John Boehner?

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The latest hot topic of Beltway conversation is whether the current Republican leadership in Congress can survive a tea party putsch after the midterm elections. John Boehner recently suggested that a government shutdown wasn’t on his agenda for next year, and Jon Chait thinks that could be a problem for him:

Here’s the problem. If Republicans want to defund the Affordable Care Act in 2011 — and it’s their highest priority — shutting down the government is the only way to go. So Boehner is signalling to his rank and file that they have to abandon their most fervent demand.

I think he’s about one gaffe away from being deposed and replaced with somebody more willing to indulge Tea Party fantasies.

If anybody wants to start up a Republican establishment Dead Pool, I’m picking Boehner.

A few things here. First, I’m sure that Boehner’s comment was purely for public consumption. Democrats are trying to damage the Republican brand with independents by making Boehner the public face of Republican intransigence and corporate lackeyism. So he’s trying to make some nice, statesmanlike noises in order to fight that. I doubt he means a word of it.

Second — and here I’m going out on a limb — I say that tea party anger is going to start dissipating as soon as the elections are over. It won’t go away entirely, but let’s face it: the primary motivation of the tea partiers isn’t deficits or spending or even healthcare reform. It’s loathing of Obama and his fellow liberals. Once they take that scalp, a huge chunk of their energy is going to vanish overnight.

Third, choosing a party leader is the ultimate in inside exercises. Sure, Boehner could lose his office, but it seems unlikely in the extreme. If Republicans retake the House, he’ll be the guy who led the revolt, and even if some of the incoming freshmen don’t support him he’ll retain the loyalty of virtually the entire current caucus. What’s more, on November 3rd he’ll start making the appropriate noises and the tea partiers will swoon. I think he’s pretty safe.

Unless Republicans don’t take the House, of course. In that case, he’s road kill.

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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