John Boehner

Normally, when a legislative leader cannot convince his party rank-and-file to support his proposals, that leader resigns with honor or is ousted in disgrace. Speaker of the House John Boehner may have crossed that threshold with the failure of his “Plan B” last week. But it is highly unlikely that he will go, partly because there is no leading candidate to replace him, and also because it is clear that many of his failures are not his fault.

Boehner is a dealmaker by nature, not the ideological leader that Newt Gingrich was, nor the partisan enforcer that Nancy Pelosi was (and remains, even in the minority). In a divided Washington, he would seem to be the right man for the job. But President Barack Obama is either uninterested in, or temperamentally incapable of, reaching compromise on anything of substance. And the Tea Party cohort that, with some reluctance, put Boenher in the Speaker’s office in 2010, has also set limits on the kind of deals he can make with Democrats.

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