On Friday's front page, New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer relayed the shock retirement of leading conservative Sen. Jim Demint of South Carolina, "Tea Party Hero Leaving Senate For New Pulpit." Steinhauer used her full allotment of "conservative" labels.
Meanwhile, another Steinhauer story bolstered Republican House leader John Boehner against those childish conservatives in his caucus: "....many House Republicans appear to view Mr. Boehner with the same sort of respect that adult children award their parents for the sage counsel they ignored in their younger days." For good measure she called South Carolina "a very conservative state."
From Steinhauer's DeMint story:
With a disappointing election in his rear view mirror and a budget compromise he could never swallow on the horizon, Senator Jim DeMint, the conservative Republican from South Carolina who helped ignite the Tea Party movement, is leaving the Senate to become president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group.
His resignation also comes as Tea Party followers in Congress face new pressure to pull back from their uncompromising views in the election’s aftermath. He will depart with the start of the new Congress in January.
Come January, the occasional kingmaker, conservative hero and filibuster lover -- he once forced the Senate to stay in town for a Saturday vote that he then chose to skip -- will find himself with a space to continue his efforts to push the Republican Party to the right from the outside rather than the inside.
A hero to many Republicans for his campaign fund-raising abilities, Mr. DeMint frustrated Senate colleagues by eagerly backing Republican candidates like Sharron Angle of Nevada, Ken Buck of Colorado and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware in 2010, and Richard Mourdock of Indiana and Todd Akin of Missouri this year, contenders who proved too conservative to be elected statewide. Those losses set back Mr. DeMint’s effort to bring the fiery conservatism of the House to the Senate, though he did have a hand in electing Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, who takes office next month.
On a related note, Steinhauer's Thursday off-lead story bolstered the more moderate House Speaker John Boehner in his tactical fight against House conservatives: "Boehner Gains Strong Backing Of House G.O.P. – Empowered For Talks – Election Result and Polls Point to Unity." The text box on the jump page: "The Republican ticket beaten, the speaker resumes the role of titular party leader."
Why would the Times suddenly show this strange new respect for Boehner? Perhaps because he's willing to make a deal with President Obama to raise taxes on "the rich."
With a daunting fiscal crisis looming and conservatives outside the House torching him at every turn, Speaker John A. Boehner might be assumed to have a shaky hold on his gavel. Instead, it appears he is enjoying the broadest support of his tumultuous two-year speakership from House Republicans.
With the election results ensuring another four years with an empowered adversary in the White House, and a growing docket of polls that show voters ready to blame Republicans for a failure to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, many House Republicans appear to view Mr. Boehner with the same sort of respect that adult children award their parents for the sage counsel they ignored in their younger days.
Should his support hold up, Mr. Boehner, who faced a frequent battering from his own members over the last two years as he tried to seal deals on various spending agreements, would be better able to negotiate from a point of relative Republican unity.
And, most important, he would be viewed as able to sell a deal to his once-fractious caucus.