I am not quite sure what to make of the latest developments in the infighting within the Republican party. All of a sudden, leaders such as speaker John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and senate minority leader Mitch McConnell seem to be openly challenging the Tea Party faction within the party, sometimes using almost contemptuous language.
Boehner in particular has been quite caustic.
But the pushback is not just words. It turns out that on Wednesday, the party leadership fired Paul Teller, the executive director of the Republican Study Committee, the conservative caucus within the House of Representative of the GOP, for working too closely with outside “conservative advocacy groups” which is code for “Tea Party”.
This assertion, like almost everything that emanates from that group, is overblown. As has been clear for some time, this infighting has very little to do with ideology (they all pretty much agree on an extreme obstructionist right-wing agenda) and everything to do with tactics, between those who want to adopt a take-no-prisoners, scorched Earth policy (the Tea Party and its allies) and those who want to achieve the same goals but through more traditional means (the Republican leadership establishment). What we can expect to see are some public statements from the party leadership genuflecting to the Tea Party while in private conversations they urge them to cut out the grandstanding inflexibility.
It seems clear that the government shut down in November, the debt ceiling default threat, and the obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act is perceived by the Republican leadership as having been far more damaging to the party than they earlier let on, and they are in no mood to countenance a repeat.
Where this leaves those high-profile party members like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio who hitched their wagon to the radical wing remains to be seen.