GOP is on fire as Boehner shifts tack and Ryan delivers

The Washington PostDecember 16, 2013 

Nancy Pelosi has given the hands-down best gift of the season to the American people — her phrase “Embrace the suck.”

Miraculous.

Offered to fellow Democrats as a push to pass the bipartisan budget bill, the phrase has all the characteristics necessary to ensure a permanent place in the popular lexicon. It’s succinct, raunchy-esque and, most important, you know exactly what it means. “It sucks, but it’s the best we’ll get.”

In no time, Embrace The Suck (ETS) had its own hashtag and was launched into the Twitterverse. Suckitude is aloft at a time when nothing floats.

Punctuating her epitaph-ready mandate, Pelosi added a characteristic subtitle: “We need to get this off the table so we can go forward,” which sounds similar to her previous comment on the Affordable Care Act: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

We now know she wasn’t kidding. The ACA rollout continues to reveal hitches, glitches and pitches that have Giuseppe’s Pinocchio nose factory working overtime.

And Republicans are on fire. The real story isn’t that a bipartisan budget bill has been hammered out but that House Speaker John Boehner has ignited.

He and others of like mind obviously have decided to sacrifice party unity in the interest of national well-being. What a concept. Over a couple of days during the budget negotiations, Boehner turned both barrels on insurrectionists — both inside and outside Congress — especially the big conservative action groups that have undermined any efforts at compromise and bipartisanship.

Depending on how things shake out in the remaining days of the jolly season, we could be witnessing the first shots of an old-guard revolution from which emerges the leader Republicans have been waiting for.

Center stage: Paul Ryan.

As all know, the budget deal was crafted by Ryan and Democrat Patty Murray. It’s a not-grand bargain — i.e., “it sucks” — but it’s something, and it staves off another budget crisis through fiscal year 2015.

Boehner’s rather sudden, unexpected attack on conservative groups such as Heritage Action, FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity was to many minds overdue. He condemned the groups for forcing tea party Republicans into corners and encouraging them to fight battles they couldn’t possibly win. Boehner has always thought this, insiders tell me, but had never expressed it publicly. His statements this past week were bold and consequential.

Conservative advocacy groups are “using our members, and they’re using the American people for their own goals,” he said. “This is ridiculous.”

Deliciously refreshing, if I do say. His remarks also leave tea party congressional members a little wiggle room by implying that, though they acted in good faith, they were being manipulated by powerful forces.

And everyone will know soon enough that Paul Ryan is The Guy — the missing leader the GOP has been searching for and who is clearly being groomed for 2016. Until then, if Boehner continues playing hardball and prevails, Democrats really might have to follow Pelosi’s imperative come 2014 — and thereafter.

Email Kathleen Parker at kathleenparker@washpost.com

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