On the budget, John Boehner must learn from Brian Mulroney

It appears likely that John Boehner will cave on the budget, funding the President’s executive orders on illegal immigration through March, and funding the whole rest of the government (including Obamacare) at our current unsustainable deficits through September, 9 months into the new Republican Congress.


He’ll say he had no choice, but we know better.

In 1984, when long-time Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, a Liberal, stepped down, he appointed dozens of his political supporters as Senators, Judges, and as leaders of government-sponsored corporations. His successor, John Turner, entered into an agreement to allow it, instead of standing up for the right thing and stopping it. Turner then called for an election before things got even worse for his party.

Progressive Conservative leader Brian Mulroney challenged Turner on this in the English language debate in that year. Turner claimed he had no choice, and Mulroney famously replied:

You had an option, sir. You could have said, ‘I am not going to do it. This is wrong for Canada, and I am not going to ask Canadians to pay the price.’ You had an option, sir — to say ‘no’ — and you chose to say ‘yes’ to the old attitudes and the old stories of the Liberal Party. That sir, if I may say respectfully, that is not good enough for Canadians.

When Turner could do nothing but repeat his excuse, Mulroney went on to add “That is an avowal of failure. That is a confession of non-leadership. And this country needs leadership. You had an option, sir. You could have done better.”


For John Boehner to cave, and allow the old ways to continue even as this change in Congressional leadership is coming, is exactly that: a confession of non-leadership in a time when we need leadership.

Conservatives continue to make gains in reforming our Congressional caucuses by winning primaries in open seats, and occasionally knocking off incumbents. Ask Eric Cantor about that. But more work has to be done, as Boehner’s failure of leadership painfully reminds us, and we will keep at it.


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