On Friday afternoon I asked who, if anyone, was now the leader of the Republican Party. Earlier in the week Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had introduced a daring 2012 budget proposal that was recognized as the first serious attempt at entitlement reform. But then Friday night House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) scored a huge win in the fight over the remainder of the 2011 budget. (By Sunday White House senior adviser David Plouffe was waxing lyrical over a deal President Obama had opposed for months.)
Not surprisingly, then, some readers chose Ryan and other chose Boehner as the putative leader of the party. Vausa22923 wrote: “John Boehner. Proposals are nice, but someone has to have the ability to close a deal. Boehner did that this week. I hope it bodes well for the future.”On the other side, StatistQuo wrote, in part: “Many honorable mentions: [Ileana] Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Rubio, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. But Paul Ryan is now, and should remain, at the head of the class. The deficit reduction/pro growth plan will be widely debated, frequently demagogued, always on the front burner, thereby making Ryan the face of the new Republican Party. How many articles have referenced Ryan and his plan this week alone?”
The readers who found these two Republicans complementary, I think, got it right. DonMega said it best:
John Boehner is the leader of the Republicans. He is the highest ranking Republican in the government and he has been able to unify House Republicans behind him. Fortunately for our posterity, Boehner is proving to be an effective leader. While Boehner is THE leader, Paul Ryan is certainly A leader. The courage and determination he has displayed in addressing the approaching debt crises are clearly the marks of a leader. Finally, Mitch McConnell has to be considered. While he cannot command the Senate, Senate Republicans are unified behind him and he is able to give Harry Reid fits when opportunities present themselves. We are well-served by all of them.
To put it slightly differently, a party without the White House needs skilled political deal-makers and creative wonks. Boehner and Ryan are a well-matched pair. Boehner has backed Ryan on the 2012 budget while getting more than anyone imagined on the leftovers from 2011. And Ryan has now defined the contours of the fight between the two parties for the remainder of Obama’s term. And did you notice, not a single reader named any presidential contender?