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Obama should be thanking the GOP


(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

I don’t know about you, but besides me -- new baby! -- there’s one person I know who’s having a terrific holiday season: Barack Obama. And he can thank the Republican Party, House Speaker John Boehner, and the state of Iowa for that. 

Could you have guessed that a year ago?

Back then, still stinging from 2010’s midterm “shellacking,” Obama proceeded to sign a huge tax bill that pissed off liberals and progressives. Part of his healthcare law was questioned by the courts just weeks before last Christmas. And though he signed off on ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, by that point, he’d pissed off the LGBTQ community so much, I think he barely got an applause line.

This holiday season, though, the GOP decided to help him out.

Pushed by Tea Partiers in the House (about 90 of ‘em), Boehner initially defied an 89 to 11 bipartisan vote in the Senate to pass the payroll tax deal. Eventually, Boehner found a way to get the legislation through in spite of his caucus’ objections.  In the end, he might have saved the Republicans from looking responsible for a tax hike, but he did little to erase the sense that they were scattered and weak

But it’s Iowa, really, that Barack needs to thank for his happy holidays.

Mere weeks before the state’s party caucuses January 3, Iowa still can’t seem to make up its mind about his challenger. Fully half the voters are undecided in this six candidate race, which pretty much makes the case for their collective lack of gravitas.

Fickle Iowa has so far showered front runner status on everyone in the race but Rick Santorum (though he’s up this week, to 10 from 5 percent), giving everyone a chance to be a target of their fellow party members’ venom -- and in the process, doing Barack and the Democrats the favor of providing negative footage of each of them for the general elections. 

Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have been piling it on Newt Gingrich. Gingrich has been shooting right back at Paul and Romney, lately pounding on Paul (the Washington Post joined in, coming as close as it can to calling Paul a liar on his newsletter denials). 

Oh the joy they must be feeling in the White House!

And coming up: the actual caucus voting in Iowa (which will do nothing but winnow the race, if that), then New Hampshire’s primary (which will only determine whether Jon Huntsman will remain in the race), and then Congress will start in again on the year-long version of the payroll tax cut. Chances are very good Boehner will find reasons to cry as the GOP continues to eat itself.

And Barack? Before trotting off to Hawai’i, he wrote a bunch of signing statements refusing to interpret aspects of the federal funding bill as the GOP would like. He’s almost starting to look like the guy many of us thought he was when we elected him.

Maybe we’re the ones who who should be thanking the GOP after all.

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