Over the past decade or so, Democrats have had one brilliant strategist besides for President Obama: California's own Nancy Pelosi. The San Franciscan who made history by becoming the first woman Speaker of the House may have since lost her gavel, but she hasn't lost her strategic edge - and her latest stroke of brilliance saved the Republican Speaker John Boehner's drunk butt and - and this is the fun part - engineered chaos in the conservative "movement".
Her brilliant plan? Majority rule. Not the majority of the majority, just a simple majority. Last Tuesday, the House voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security without any policy riders - read no defunding of President Obama's executive order on immigration - but for the "clean" bill to pass, Boehner had to rely on Minority Leader Pelosi delivering almost all the Democratic votes, while all but 75 of the House's 245 Republicans voted against keeping America safe.
But that vote came up right in the middle of the hoopla following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's desperate speech to Congress, and Politico released a story last week detailing negotiations between Boehner and Pelosi to pass the clean bill after several attempts by Boehner to gain leverage was turned down by his own party, including a 3-week extension. Pelosi held the Democrats together against that 3-week extension in order to leave Speaker Orange between a rock and a hard place. With only a one-week extension, Boehner had to make a quick decision as to what to do, and Pelosi and the Democratic leadership bet that he wasn't going to be responsible for shutting down the department responsible for fighting terrorism.
Pelosi's bet paid off big time. Knowing the crazy caucus he's helped create and promote, Boehner had no choice but go to Pelosi with tail between legs.
Quiet negotiations, hmm? Tell us more, tell us more! Just how badly did Boehner need to go to the Dems hat in hand? This bad:
Boehner couldn't even get a rule through - let alone a bill - without Pelosi cracking the whip. Of course he had to look to Pelosi to save him from becoming the Speaker who put American lives in danger by playing politics with funding.
Amusingly, Boehner's office has been ferociously busy denying reports that any deal took place with Pelosi, while Pelosi's office has made no comment, allowing her to watch the GOP chaos with fun.
But the conservative media and right wing social media have exploded, fuming at Boehner for not allowing the Tea Party to hold America's safety hostage to their xenophobia - and worse yet, for using Democrats to form the governing majority! Wherever you go on the net, conservative drama queens are flipping out! Some are even suggesting Pelosi is ordering Boehner around!
Alex "of course the government has weather weapons" Jones' InfoWars describes the deal as a "cover-up" by Speaker Boehner. Salacious!
Breitbart describes the report in politico as a "bombshell" dooming His Speakership, and openly wonders just how long Boehner can even mildly govern, I mean violate the much-vaunted Hastert rule that prescribes rule by the majority of the majority even when that is a minority and still remain speaker.
All the right wing fume-a-geddon might be rooted in another realization, however: Pelosi is not only wielding unusual power a for a minority leader, in the midst of the Tea Party threats to unseat Boehner as Speaker, she may have maneuvered to ensure that John Boehner owes his gavel to her. As the Tea Party had been contemplating their coup, Pelosi may have beaten them in their own game.
The Hill reported last week that Tea Party Republicans are on their own if they want to stage a coup against Boehner, and that Democrats will not be helping them out.
Although Pelosi has herself publicly disassociated herself from what she called the GOP's "caucus politics", no one should believe that the signals coming from senior Democrats are not a coordinated signal to Boehner as to who is saving his behind.
I am well aware that the Tea Party isn't the only one unhappy at the news of Democrats saving Boehner's backside. I know many on the Left will view this as Pelosi's "selling out" and surrendering a chance to embarrass Boehner.
Except that Pelosi has bigger fish to fry than embarrassing John Boehner, especially since he doesn't seem to need any help in that department. By allowing a narrative to form about how Democrats are protecting Boehner's speakership out of fear that a more conservative wingbat may take his place, Pelosi is quite expertly sowing discord in the GOP ranks.
First, she is validating the Teabagger hotheads who believe that Boehner is in league with "big gubmint libruls" even as Boehner is desperately trying to avoid that label. Pelosi saw the Tea Party's extremism in wanting to blow up everything in order to tear down the president, and she is taking advantage of the fact that Teabaggers see governing at all as capitulation to the black usurper. She is making sure that the Tea Party never sees Boehner as one of their own, even if he is.
Second, having sown that discord which becomes a growing threat to Boehner's precious Speaker's chair, she is sending out Democrats to say that his chair is safe thanks to Democrats. The fact that Boehner's speakership is threatened and his bottom is saved by Democrats means that should Democrats decide to withdraw that conditional support... And this gives Pelosi extraordinary leverage in a House where Democrats hold just 188 seats.
The two paradigms are symbiotic: the news about Democrats keeping Boehner in power infuriates the Tea Party further, creating a greater threat to Boehner's Speakership, in turn making the Democrats even more essential in the House.
And that's Pelosi's genius. She didn't create the Tea Party, nor its extremism-generated discord with Boehner. She simply saw it and with a few brilliant political strokes, she's engineered GOP chaos that requires her to save Boehner's bacon again and again.