Is John Boehner the village idiot?

No, but he sometimes plays the part.

The question was prompted by this headline in today’s Washington Post: “Boehner says Obama must gain GOP trust on immigration.” In what universe could President Obama ever deserve Republican trust on any issue?

Boehner knows that no such universe exists. But by focusing on the issue of trust, Boehner puts himself in a win-win situation from his prospective.

If Obama doesn’t undertake any new acts of “pen and phone” to nullify the law during the next few months, Boehner can (1) claim credit and (2) claim that Republicans can now trust Obama enough to pass immigration reform. Few will take the second claim seriously, but it may provide enough of a fig leaf for Republicans who want immigration reform but are nervous about the politics of it.

If, on the other hand, Obama behaves like a czar, Boehner can blame the president when he explains to the Chamber of Commerce why he won’t bring up immigration reform. Alternatively, Boehner can overlook Obama’s behavior and push for immigration reform anyway.

So actually, Boehner is one of the smartest politicians in the village. But not among the most trustworthy.

You can reach the Speaker’s office at 202-225-6205. To reach other members, call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

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