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The Boehner Recovery

The House speaker survives a near-death experience.

Aug 8, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 44 • By FRED BARNES
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Days later, they clashed in televised speeches. The president delivered a string of tired platitudes from his campaign speeches. Boehner’s remarks were folksy but substantive: “The president has often said we need a ‘balanced’ approach, which in Washington means: We spend more, you pay more.”

The White House, the Senate, and the press weren’t Boehner’s only foes. There was an enemy within, the Republican Study Committee. It has existed for years, putting out conservative issue statements and studies. But in the debt limit fight, it deployed a whip team to round up Republicans against Boehner’s plan, even recruiting conservative groups to lobby them.

Boehner batted them down more gently than his colleagues in the GOP leadership would have. He wanted to prevent a deep and lingering split. After voting against Boehner, RSC chairman Jim Jordan, a fellow Ohioan, praised him for his “tireless work to achieve real spending cuts without tax increases.” 

One measure of a political leader is his ability to rebound from defeat, or near-defeat in Boehner’s case. He proved to be resilient and resourceful. Republicans feared he’d gotten in over his head in his one-on-one negotiations with the president. My guess is Obama doesn’t think so.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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