White House sources are suggesting that John Boehner’s strategy of picking a fight with the president over his immigration executive actions has backfired and led to Boehner and Mitch McConnell giving Obama 99% of what he wants.
The key takeaway, they say: The argument that Obama could change the dysfunctional relationship with Congress by reaching out more to House Republicans appears to be dead. And even if Republicans eventually pass a funding bill clean of any restrictions on the president’s immigration executive actions or anything else, Obama comes out looking like the adult in Washington, and Republicans look like they are incapable of governing.
“The only reason is that it’s not the best possible outcome is that they didn’t pass the full-year funding,” an Obama aide said, reflecting on what happened Friday night. “The fact that they’re going to next week, and that we avoided a shutdown, was 99 percent of what we wanted.”
The only way that the situation could get worse for Boehner and McConnell is if Homeland Security does shut down. Both Boehner and House Whip Rep. Steve Scalise have denied the existence of a secret deal with House Democrats to allow a vote on full funding of Homeland Security next week, but it is clear that at some point that is where this Republican manufactured crisis ends up.
The political dynamics in Washington has done a complete one-eighty from where Republicans thought they would be on Election Night 2014. Boehner and McConnell had big dreams of challenging the president and forcing him to govern on their terms. Instead, President Obama quickly set the agenda immediately after the election and Republicans have been on the defensive ever since.
President Obama and the Senate Democrats are setting the agenda. Boehner and McConnell have been reduced to picking fights with the president in order to create situations where they hope to assert their power. Republicans can’t seize the high ground from this president and his party. Boehner and McConnell have bumbled from one hopeless bill and crisis to another. During their process of consistent failure, they have demonstrated a comprehensive inability to govern.
Things couldn’t be going better for President Obama if he would have scripted the events himself.