John Boehner can be the next Tip O'Neill - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

John Boehner can be the next Tip O’Neill

A map circling the web of self satisfied Democrats depicts the red state/ blue state divide in last week’s election.  A map below it shows the parallel with those states who either seceded from the Union or sided with the slave states during the American Civil War.

The reader should recognize President Obama lost North Carolina by a lesser margin (97,000) than he won in Ohio (103,000), which gave him his second term.  The reader may also be reminded North Carolina gave the nation Senator Sam Ervin and author Thomas Wolfe while Ohio gave us Fox News chief Roger Ailes and Charles Manson.

In Southern culture, an elephant’s memory is an asset and my Miss Vickie is no different.  Born and bred in the predominantly white piedmont of North Carolina, her spirit connection to family, culture, food and manners is shared here by the black women of Maryland with whom she shares an office.  Even as Vickie is far more liberal, her kinship with her churchy sisters is ever a reminder to her that Maryland is a pendulum state, swinging at times both northern and southern.

Maryland won big in Tuesday’s election.  It finalized the statewide debate over civil unions and the Dream Act while aiding President Obama in his quest for a second term in the White House.  Still, compared to the overwhelming support for the President in Maryland (61%-36%) and aid for children of illegal aliens (58%-42%), gay marriage (52%-48%) was passed by a much smaller margin.

Far from being a mandate for all causes liberal, Maryland voters told the nation that while we maintain belief in this President, we have not relinquished our faith nor the need to resolve our nations’ immigration policy so as to benefit Americans first with jobs.  What Maryland voters said on Tuesday was a litmus sized sample of what the nation told its elected officials.  Maryland said this is the ‘new norm’.

President Obama’s reelection stands not as a mandate for all his policies.  Even I have grown tired of the President asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.  That’s probably because it should have been done already.  Still, his reelection should tell Republicans in Congress that four more years of saying ‘nyet’ to any and all offers from Democrats is no way to run a railroad if one wants to continue to get their taxpayer funded salaries and benefits.

Santorum blamed the gays for costing the Republicans the election. Might want to look at himself before blaming anyone.

Republicans and their Fox News advocates have long had great trouble accommodating reality and often create their own.   Their adherents’ accusations since the election range from on air spats on election night to former Senator Santorum claiming on CNN that homosexuals stole the election.   Coal executive Robert Murray, claimed on Friday the results of the election are forcing his company, often cited for labor and environmental violations, to layoff workers.  Through the endless parade of fantasies and vitriol that veils itself as fact, I have hope.  My hope lies with one gambler- President Obama.

Barack Obama gambled his Presidency on the health care mandate he helped pass and won.  He gambled the assets he gained with the killing of Osama bin Laden by reasserting American foreign policy as it concerns our ally, Israel.

As part of the new norm, Obama’s reelection leaves Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Netanyahu having to accept that our economic stand against Iran will continue.  And now, it is my guess the President will gamble his chips from the election on John Boehner, Speaker of the House.  He’ll win that too.

The tax debate that looms large on the horizon in Washington is confusing yet simple.  Republicans feel raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans will hinder job creation and is a non starter.  Democrats believe the opposite and assert the nation needs the money, if not at least the spirit of all for one.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has already told Americans he is willing to meet the President halfway.  Still he asserts, he ‘is not willing to raise taxes to turn off the sequester’, that forces mandatory cuts to domestic and defense spending as well as tax increases which Congress agreed will take affect on January 1st, 2013.

While Senator McConnell is still asserting the same GOP intransigence they thought would help elect Mitt Romney, John Boehner may view Obama’s reelection differently.  The House Speaker may not only have recognized the new norm but may also want to be part of it too.

What reasoning have I for a man who, along with all but twelve of his party members in Congress, have signed Grover Norquist’s anti tax pledge?

Maybe it is that John Boehner is tired of being in the grips of the Norquist Brotherhood and Fox News. He may finally heed the sentiments of fellow Republican Jeb Bush who, when asked about the pledge said, ‘I don’t believe you outsource your convictions and principles to people’.

Norquist pushes for Republicans to take an anti-tax pledge. Is that really the best course for the nation?

Maybe he has, after four years, come to see the determination of the still acting Commander in Chief.  Boehner may wish to side this time with the Executive, whose willingness to gamble on the future far outweighs the GOP’S unwillingness to stand up without a pledge from the non elected.

Perhaps, with the President’s ability to explain the nuance of issues that confront our nation, Speaker Boehner has realized that, in the new norm, his party needs to take a chance on this President as leader of our nation.  Pass or fail, Boehner may have learned he needs the President’s help to bring his party from the era of pince-nez and walrus mustaches.

The Speaker has seen how President Obama has had to bring certain Democrats forward, kicking and screaming, to accept his policies.  It could be that John Boehner has now grown tired of constantly defending fellow Republicans who feel that rape, or bigotry or sexism in the name of faith or politics or gender stupidity is still okay.  He may just be embarrassed at seeing the Republican Party be known as the ‘Party of the Nonces’.

John Boehner can change the course of history for the Republican party. Will he do it?

Or more simply, as both the President and the Speaker are smokers, this even rarer kinship may alone help to end the gridlock in Washington.

Common sense has made a comeback in 2012.  Unlike Senator McConnell, I believe Speaker Boehner knows it.  I can imagine the President and the Speaker on long walks in the leaf strewn woods around Camp David in the coming weeks.  Battling both the facts of the tax issue and the need for Americans to have agreement on Capitol Hill, both men will seek to unite as one.  The problem for Speaker Boehner is while he knows he commands the majority in the House, he will not command the valued public approval rating in Congress that the President has without compromise.

John Boehner is, like many of us, desperately in love with our nation and wears our colors on his sleeve.  In this respect, his hopes are mine too.  In seeing the President take four relentless years of punches from home and abroad and still be reelected, the Speaker may reason it’s time for the GOP to divorce itself from its unelected puppet masters and stand on its own.

Will Boehner be the next Tip?

Speaker Boehner should reason it’s time to stop letting Fox News and Grover Norquist set the agenda for the Republican Party.  In order to move forward, Boehner will have to tell his Tea Party and Brotherhood cohorts in the House to leave their moralizing at the door, stop nailing their petitions to the cross and take their punches to get the compromise Americans are begging for.

I believe Speaker Boehner’s path is intrepid yet this gamble will be worth his every effort.  He will have to lasso the lunatics in his party to vote for the sacrosanct tax hike on the wealthy.  As a result, he will be pilloried at Fox News and by the GOP’s wealthy power base.   Still, Americans, especially the poorest of Republicans and Democrats will know better and will praise him as they once did Tip O’Neill.  They will recognize the hope in his leadership with this much needed compromise.

In return, Speaker Boehner will have brought his party, kicking and screaming, to the new norm.






About the author

Robert Emmet Mara

Robert Emmet Mara has been in Baltimore since 2006. A native New Yorker, Robert came to Baltimore to do three things: work with kids, renovate houses and write a second book of fiction. Since his arrival, he has managed to do all three and more. He has sought better oversight for his still blighted Harwood neighborhood from the city and has been asked to speak to various community association leaders on the subject of city agency relations. Contact the author.