Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Kondracke: Now We Know Who the Grown-Ups Are

Ryan’s presumptive presidential rival, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had no sooner hinted (at last month’s Jack Kemp Foundation dinner) that the GOP had to adopt a softer, “I care” image after 2012 than he joined the over-the-cliff gang, presumably assuming that 2016 primary voters will still be looking for tea party purity.

Boehner clearly is a grown-up, too. Even though he has been serially humiliated by Obama and his own GOP Conference, he has striven repeatedly to find workable deals and has been willing to risk his gavel to avoid national disaster.

His immediate subordinates, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California seem to think that the future of the GOP lies with the tea party.

If that’s true, we’re in for spectacles like the nominations of Nevada Republican Sharron Angle — which kept Reid in the Senate in 2010 — and other outliers who prevented a GOP takeover of the Senate in 2012, not to mention losing the presidency.

If Obama were to show — or let Biden show — flexibility on spending and entitlements, he might find McConnell, Boehner and Ryan willing to further buck the right-wing claque.

Obama has done a good job keeping his base under control, but if there is to be any hope of real problem-solving, he is going to have to risk outrage on the left as future (not present) entitlement benefits are adjusted.

He’ll have to rely on Democratic grown-ups besides Biden. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois fit the bill.

Practically every media commentator is predicting bitter trench-warfare and more last-minute catastrophe-avoidance (or catastrophic failure) as the future of American politics for as far as the eye can see.

The past — particularly the abysmal record of the 112th Congress — lends credence to that forecast. But it’s not inevitable.

If Obama wants to avoid it, he might begin with a quiet weekend Gathering of Grown-ups at Camp David.

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