Will Eric Cantor unseat John Boehner atop the GOP pyramid scheme?
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Will Eric Cantor unseat John Boehner atop the GOP pyramid scheme?

Atlanta : GA : USA | Dec 27, 2012 at 10:04 AM PST
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Poor John Boehner. He cannot seem to get anything done anymore, and his legacy, if there is to be a favorable one, seems as elusive as ever, as well. What is the poor man to do? Tear up and get emotional? No, he has already tried that on several occasions, only to draw severe criticism from more hardened souls on the right. But time is running out. His fiscal cliff theatrics have garnered neither support in the press nor from within his own party. Could we be looking at the final days of his tenure on the speaker’s throne?

To be rebuked on all sides is not a strategy that produces much in the way of fame or success in the short term, but a principled approach that benefits the nation at large while enduring a personal sacrifice is often praised when the history books of the future are written. Going down in flames for the good of the people has been characterized as a “profile in courage,” but is Boehner capable of such courageous behavior?

Some could make the argument that President Obama is a better chess player than our tortured Speaker of the House. Recent poll ratings for Obama have risen above the 50% threshold in a number of categories. His prowess in the current fiscal cliff debate has drawn a 54% figure, while Boehner grovels in the polling doghouse at 26%. As weak as Boehner’s result is, it is equivalent to how Americans also view the entire group of Republicans in Congress. The GOP leadership is fast becoming regarded almost as derisively by the general electorate as is a used car salesman.

Does John Boehner have any viable options to get out of his predicament? Of course he does, if he can see past his nose to spite his face. His recent setbacks have resulted because the Tea Party blocked his ability to amass a formidable majority within his GOP caucus. If he would only embrace bipartisanship and reach across the aisle, he would find Democratic support that could lead to quick adoption of his proposals on the House floor. Apparently, this choice might have dire consequences, but the people would be served.

What are these “dire consequences"? John is an easy target atop the GOP pyramid scheme. This house of cards could easily collapse, if dissension within the ranks were to prevail. Grover Norquist, big-moneyed interests, and Tea Party supporters would have a field day mounting primary challenges in the 2014 election cycle, or, worse yet, fomenting a strident recall campaign in 2013. The first salvo, however, would be to dethrone the Speaker from his lofty perch and appoint the next man in line.

And who is this “next man in line”? Republicans do have a way of getting in line and following it to the letter, even when the choices may not be the best at hand. The next person that has been waiting patiently in the wings for his opportunity to come has been none other than the House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor. He may not have delivered his home state of Virginia for Mitt Romney, but his constant zeal for all things conservative has remained untarnished throughout the entire election process.

This notion of Eric Cantor moving up the chain of command is not a radical or farfetched scenario foisted on the national scene by overarching political pundits. Ever since John Boehner rose in the national spotlight, shedding ample tears along the way, the idea that his reign would be a short one rose with him. The press did not waste any time ferreting out possible schisms between these two leaders, forcing each man’s staff to go into overdrive that both were the best of friends and joined at the hip with common desires.

But, disparaging articles continued to flow, despite the best of public relations responses. Aides for both camps try to play down this drama, but in private interviews, they only add fuel to the growing fire within the party. Both men differ on which parts of the puzzle should be dealt with now, as opposed to later down the line. For example, Cantor has been moving in the background to delay sequestered budget cuts in order to direct more pointed attacks at non-military government targets. Boehner disagrees.

Is Cantor the only possible replacement candidate? There are three other names that have been bandied about of late -- third-ranking Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Rep. Tom Price of Georgia. If there is to be a change, there is a great deal of internal gamesmanship that must transpire over the following weeks. When the 113th Congress convenes, the first action taken will be to vote for Speaker of the House. The GOP does not want a long drawn out affair in this regard. By that date, the battle will have already been waged and won.

So that brings us back to Boehner either taking a dive for his party or diving off the fiscal cliff into no man’s land. The Congressional Budget Office has already weighed in on what to expect if there is no fiscal cliff deal. GDP will drop 0.5%. Federal jobless benefits will cease for two million Americans. Unemployment will rise again to 9.1% by the end of 2013. Not a pretty picture, but the piper must be paid at some point, leading many “Bulls” to claim that “no deal” may be a good thing, after all. “Bears” disagree.

But Boehner continues to twist slowly in the wind, refusing to embrace bipartisan alternatives or modify his ideological stance. John Kenneth Galbraith, a noted economist and prolific author, once summarized the “conundrum” now facing Boehner when he concluded, “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” He may be “Johnny on the spot” at the moment, but Boehner needs a dose of courage to move in the most prudent direction. Time to “man up,” John! Lean Forward!

References: Imbedded links provided, but points made are primarily the opinion of the author.

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House Minority Leader John Boehner (R) and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (L)
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R) and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (L)
TomCleveland is based in Gainesville, Georgia, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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