Are Boehner and the Tea Party no longer BFFs? Today it was reported that Judson Phillips, founder of the group Tea Party Nation, has launched a broadside against the Speaker of the House on the TPN Web site, criticizing Boehner's ineffectiveness and declaring that "the honeymoon is over."
"You look like a fool," Phillips tells Boehner in the post. "If this is the best John Boehner can do and John Boehner is the only hope we have right now, then we are sunk ... By the time we can replace Obama as president, in 2013, we will be trillions of dollars of more into debt and may hit the point of economic collapse." Phillips also takes Boehner to task for not shoring up the GOP's promised $61 billion in spending cuts:
Boehner had the gall to have a ‘mission accomplished’ moment when he declared they had fulfilled their commitment by passing a budget in the House that cut only $61 billion. Not making it law or making it happen, but only by passing the budget in the House ... Boehner is simply going to the old tried and true Republican tactic of saying, ‘we promised you we would vote on it, and we did!’ ... No, John. You were not put in the Speaker’s chair simply to have votes and pat yourself on the back. You were put in the Speaker’s chair to do something.
Perhaps most notably, Phillips calls upon the Tea Party to find "a candidate to run against John Boehner in 2012 and... set as a goal, to defeat in a primary, the sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives." It's a battle cry that many now-ousted politicians might remember from the 2010 midterms.
It's worth noting that Phillips doesn't garner much respect as a political thinker. Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs calls him "a full-on crank," and Time's Alex Altman writes that he's "viewed as something of a phony by many Tea Partyers." In response to Phillips's criticism that all Boehner did was get a budget through the House, Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway wonders, "Do they not realize that passing legislation in the House is the only thing that John Boehner can do? Once it passes the House, it heads to the Senate, where Boehner has no control and little influence."
But Phillips is still the head of one of the more influential Tea Party organizations, which raises the question: how widespread are his sentiments? Do other Tea Party groups feel the same way?
Around Boehner's home state, they might: A blog at The Cincinnati Enquirer Web site reported earlier this week that a number of Tea Party groups in Boehner's Ohio district sent him a letter expressing "extreme disappointment" that Boehner might raise the nation's debt ceiling. The letter also called it "unacceptable" that Boehner appeared to be compromising on the Republicans' promised $100 billion in cuts.
As for groups on the national stage, USA Today reports that both the Tea Party Patriots and the Tea Party Express were quick to put daylight between themselves and Phillips. Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler said that he was "offended" by Phillips's missive, which compares Boehner to Charlie Sheen, and said that Phillips's "vicious hyperbole... doesn't serve the movement and doesn't help the debate forward."
CNN also spoke with Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, who said, "I can’t say I’m extremely happy with [Republican] leadership ... But I do think that they have taken steps in the right direction. I don’t think we can be purists about this. We’re in a very, very difficult situation. And we did not get here overnight."