Conversely, the Republicans gained seats in the House, thereby (theoretically) making Speaker John Boehner's position stronger than before. He retains his position as the most powerful Republican in elected office. However, with the aforementioned realities, there will be even more pressure on him to lead. Democrats will try to push him around more than before and conservatives will demand now more than ever that he hold the line.
Unfortunately, based on Boehner's history, the prospects for the former seem to be far more likely than the latter. He will be pulled in two very different directions but early indications - the day after the election - are that Boehner is sending signals that he could be more conciliatory during the first half of Obama's second term than he was in the second half of the president's first term.
Less than twenty-four hours after the election, Boehner was offering to put tax hikes on the table (new sources of revenue) and suggested that the election was a mandate for both parties to work together. This is very troubling talk from the Speaker. When the Constitution is under assault, working together with those perpetrating that assault is not an acceptable form of compromise.
House Speaker John Boehner offered Wednesday to pursue a deal with a victorious President Barack Obama that will include higher taxes "under the right conditions" to help reduce the nation's staggering debt and put its finances in order.This is not the time for compromise; it's time for leadership and solidarity with the Constitution. Boehner could have done more to lead on things like the Fast and Furious investigation, for example. Doing so likely would have put it front and center, making it a top issue. He didn't (in much the same way that Romney punted on Benghazi in debate #3). In fact, Boehner's relative silence on Fast and Furious seemed to indicate that he wanted it to go away. He even scheduled Eric Holder's contempt hearing on the same day as the Obamacare ruling at the Supreme Court.
"Mr. President, this is your moment," Boehner told reporters, speaking about the "fiscal cliff" that will hit in January. "We want you to lead."
Boehner said House Republicans are asking Obama "to make good on a balanced approach" that would including spending cuts and address government social benefit programs.
"Let's find the common ground that has eluded us," Boehner said while congratulating the president on winning a second term.
The Speaker was likely banking on a Romney win, which would have been the path of least resistance on things like Fast and Furious. As it is now, the path of least resistance is even less desirable but, based on Boehner's history - and his words yesterday - probably more likely for him to take.
Conservatives will have their work cut out for them when it comes to holding Boehner accountable but that task is shaping up to be a top priority if they are to prevent the Speaker from coming down with Neville Chamberlainism.