Matt Lewis

Boehner and Grover hardest hit over ‘Plan B’ meltdown?

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

Yesterday afternoon, I wrote this: “Regardless of what you think about ‘Plan B,’ it’s pretty clear that Republican leadership will look incredibly weak if they can’t even deliver enough votes to pass their own legislation.”

Indeed they do.

John Boehner must be asking himself — “What the hell good is it to be Speaker if you can’t even pass a bill?”

But it’s not all his fault. Being Speaker ain’t what it used to be.

A couple weeks ago, I went on “Morning Joe” to discuss this phenomenon. If you missed it, here’s the video:

While GOP leadership are obvious political losers here, the meltdown may have another victim — Grover Norquist.

Until a couple days ago, the media attributed great powers to Norquist. They blamed (and probably grudgingly even admired) the man — and his taxpayer protection pledge — for being the reason Republicans were afraid to vote for “reasonable” tax increases.

It was a great narrative — an almost perfect media invention. Here you had this man behind the curtain calling all the shots. And Norquist is a terrific interview. And so, the perception was that Norquist had an outsized influence — that he was essentially blackmailing Republicans into doing his bidding. If it’s better to be feared than loved — if power is what matters in DC — he seemed to have it made. But it turns out the media hype was mostly hype.

Unfortunately, Norquist’s group “Americans for Tax Reform” made a tactical error when they announced that a vote for “Plan B” would not constitute breaking the pledge.

Almost immediately, other conservative groups tacked the opposite direction, announcing they would score the vote — and warning Republican Members to vote “no.”

Because Speaker Boehner couldn’t summon enough votes to pass it — even with Norquist’s tacit approval — it is now painfully clear that fear of repercussions over breaking Norquist’s pledge had little to do with Republican opposition to tax hikes (could it be that conservatives just philosophically oppose raising taxes?)

Norquist wakes up this morning looking less powerful than yesterday.