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Inside the Beltway: The bane of Boehner

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Oh, woe is House Speaker John A. Boehner. Well, maybe. As the vote for his re-election as speaker looms Thursday, the Ohio Republican faces claims that conservative stalwarts on Capitol Hill are angry and organized, and there's no guarantee he'll retain his title. Mr. Boehner, known for sporting spirited green ties, is a has-been, his critics insist.

"There are more than 20 House Republicans who want to fire Boehner now. The odds of this happening were once 1-7. Now they have moved to 1-4," Ron Meyer, spokesman for the conservative grass-roots group American Majority Action, tells Inside the Beltway. He insists that Mr. Boehner will either "resign or be forced out."

Republicans, Mr. Meyer warns, "could lose the House in 2014 with Boehner as speaker. It's similar to what happened to Democrats in 2010. Opinion polls show him with approval ratings as low as 19 percent," Mr. Meyer continues. "There are other reasons to replace him. In the past two months, conservatives were purged from their committee placements, Plan B failed and tax increases were pushed as a solution to the fiscal cliff."

Meanwhile, CNN reports that the Republican Party is in "stunning disarray," while an online poll at the Drudge Report currently reveals that 85 percent of the 300,000-plus respondents vote "nay" on Mr. Boehner remaining in his current role.

BOEHNER, EASY WINNER

Maybe nobody really wants to be House speaker. That's the thinking among those who say Mr. Boehner will keep his seat, no problem. So he can keep wearing those jaunty green ties.

"Successful rebellions require leaders. That's why the recent talk about some House conservatives conniving to wrest the speaker's gavel from John Boehner now appears headed nowhere — and why even Boehner's detractors say he will be re-elected when the new Congress convenes on Thursday," says Billy House, a congressional reporter at the National Journal.

"You can't beat somebody with nobody," one senior House Republican said. There's "skittishness" from viable candidates to step forward, "from the shadows or anywhere else."

REAGAN'S 'MODERN' ABODE

Gipper-philes, let us return to 1956 when Ronald and Nancy Reagan helped design their residence: A 4,764-square foot, four-bedroom, four-bath ranch house in the picturesque Pacific Palisades neighborhood of west Los Angeles. It's up for sale for $4,999,000 and is described in Realtor parlance as "mid-century modern," complete with glass walls, fabulous views, indoor courtyard, vaulted ceilings, streamlined cabinets, granite walls and an octagonal swimming pool. The couple lived there during a monumental moment on Nov. 4, 1980, when Reagan received the call from then President Jimmy Carter, conceding the election.

"Of all the Reagan houses, whether owned, rented or temporarily 'borrowed,' this home in Pacific Palisades certainly holds more interest when it comes to his personal history. We all know Reagan as a film star, a governor and president, but there was so much more to his life and career that is not known," says an analysis from Toptenrealestatedeals.com, a site that follows noteworthy properties.

"Ronald Reagan was entranced by views. Where some people feel warm and fuzzy being surrounded by mountains deep in a valley, Reagan wanted to be up high where he could overlook a good view. This was evidenced in the homes he built, first with Jane Wyman and later with Nancy." The analysis notes that Reagan's success as the popular TV host of "General Electric Theater" brought some distinct domestic benefits.

"GE began using Reagan as a spokesperson for the company in a political message about the government's regulations cracking down on the free enterprise system. Since these messages were so well received, GE rewarded Reagan with a state-of-the-art, all-electric house with every imaginable electrical convenience, including the newly conceived garbage disposal."

And thus, the new residence. Ultimately, Reagan was to move into a new house in the nation's capital, and one that undoubtably offered the president an entrancing view.

HEADLINE DU JOUR

"The Second Coming: What can the 44th president really achieve in his second term?"

- (From the cover of Foreign Policy magazine)

GORE CHANGES CHANNELS

When Al Gore founded Current TV in 2005, its mission statement claimed the network would never be "DNC TV," but rather, a vibrant outlet for the young and restless. But now? There are strong reports from the New York Times and other sources that Mr. Gore has sold his network to Al-Jazeera, the Arabic language cable channel based in Qatar.

It is a far cry from November, when Mr. Gore himself anchored the network's presidential election coverage. Nielsen, meanwhile, reveals that Current attracts nightly audiences as low as 41,000 viewers.

"If the deal is completed, Current will provide the Pan-Arab news giant with something it has sought for years: a pathway into American living rooms," The Times says. "To date, the country's cable and satellite distributors have been reluctant to carry Al-Jazeera English Acquiring Current TV, and thus its distribution deals across the country, would solve this dilemma for Al-Jazeera."

POLL DU JOUR

• 85 percent of Americans anticipate a federal budget deficit this year; 13 percent counter that the budget will be "generally balanced."

• 82 percent anticipate rising taxes; 13 percent say taxes will fall.

• 65 percent anticipate a year of "economic difficulty," 33 percent anticipate "prosperity."

• 57 percent say America's power will decline in the world in the next year; 37 percent say it will increase.

• 50 percent say the nation's "best years are behind us"; 74 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independents and 28 percent of Democrats agree.

• 47 percent of Americans overall say the nation's best years are "ahead of us"; 24 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,025 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 14-17 and released Wednesday.

Grumbles, mumbles, sighs to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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