boehner.jpgI was surprised to hear about the "Gang of Eleven" House GOP moderates who breached Bush's bubble this week. I was more surprised to learn in a WaPoOnline chat this morning that House Minority Leader Boehner attended the meeting:

San Francisco: Hello Jonathan, these chats are great, thanks! What's the House GOP leadership have to say about the "Gang of 11" and their trip up Pennsylvania Ave.? We know Tony Snow's asked everyone not to make too much of it, but did these so-called endangered moderates act with the permission of Boehner, Blunt et al, or in defiance of them?

Jonathan Weisman: Interesting question. Boehner was actually in the room at the White House during the meeting. He didn't say anything, apparently, but his presence showed he was very attentive to their concerns. Yesterday, as I walked through the Capitol, I had Republicans of all stripes tell me they are with the moderates and were glad they spoke out. But significantly, none of them would go on the record. They are teetering but they're not quite ready to tip.

Hunting around on teh Google, I found this from the ultimate insider BeltwayBoys at Politico:

“But Boehner is in just as difficult a position. He was one of the 14 Republicans (yes, 14, not 11 as so many reported) to go to the White House on Tuesday with GOP moderates to meet with Bush. This is Boehner's meeting; without his intervention, it doesn't happen. Do you think Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) gets a meeting with Bush on Iraq without Boehner? So Boehner is trying to keep his moderates in line on Iraq while Bush tries to cut a deal.

But who gets the Sheryl Crow treatment from Karl Rove for speaking truth to the President in the White House private quarters solarium, in front of Rice and Gates? Not silent Boehner! WaPoO's Weisman again:

Boston: Read an article saying LaHood was rebuked at the White House yesterday for speaking with the press about the "11" meeting with the President. At what point do congressional Republicans tell Karl Rove to stuff it? He's only holding a position of power for 18 more months…

Jonathan Weisman: I mentioned that in my story this morning as well. Apparently, Karl Rove really chewed out Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who organized the get-together. I talked to one of the 11 who was really upset about it. Instead of the White House using the news to say, see, the president isn't in a bubble, he can take criticism, they apparently tried to shut it down.

So was Boehner there to babysit his "moderates" and be sure they didn't insult Dear Leader? And did they get out of hand, by Rove's rules? 

If your kids stay up too late, drink sodas and eat chocolate candy when you're out for a rare evening — do you blame the kids or the babysitter? Why does Boehner get off scot-free in Rove's book, even though he allowed his scared moderates to piddle all over the solarium carpet, whining about their fear of their constitutents' wrath on the Iraq War? Worse, why does Boehner let Rove chew out his caucus members, if he was at the meeting (silently) monitoring their behavior? Worst of all, what's the point of meeting with the President of the United States if you've got nothing to say?
House Minority Leader John Boehner, tell America about that White House meeting! Washington press corps, get John Boehner on the record about it!
UPDATE: Howie Klein examines the "GOP moderate" label… and finds it wanting.
UPDATE #2: The NYTimes gets Boehner on-the-record:

"It was very healthy,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, who attended but let the moderates do most of the talking.

Leader Boehner, if the meeting was "very healthy," why is Karl Rove treating your caucus members like Sheryl Crow?

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge