Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) complained that the Obama administration intends to "annihilate the Republican Party. And let me tell you, I do believe that is their goal -- to just shove us in the dustbin of history."
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) joined the pity party over the weekend.
On "Meet the Press" yesterday, Ryan told David Gregory that he believes President Obama is "thinking more of a political conquest than political compromise."
And on Saturday, Paul spoke at the National Review Institute Summit in Washington and told attendees that the president is committed to trying to "delegitimize the Republican Party -- and House Republicans, in particular."
It may be a coincidence, but the fact that prominent Republican leaders are stressing this same point at the same time suggests it may be a new GOP talking point, which wasn't heard much at all in Obama's first term: the president the right sees as weak and lacking in fundamental toughness is now a brute intent on defeating and destroying entire Republican Party.
And the more I hear prominent GOP voices saying this, the less sense it makes.
To reiterate what we discussed last week, President Obama is many things, but a partisan hitman, hell bent on "conquest," "annihilation," and "delegitimizing" his rivals contradicts just about everything we know about the man.
Whether you love Barack Obama, hate him, or occasionally change your mind about him, the guy is an even-keeled, technocratic Democrat, who's spent four years pursuing a fairly moderate agenda, endorsing and utilizing Republican ideas, appointing Republicans to his cabinet, and expressing a willingness to compromise on practically everything.
If "conquest" is on the president's to-do list, he's hidden it extremely well.
Indeed, the inescapable reaction to the Boehner/Ryan pity party is that they're engaging in projection -- it's Republicans who've tried to delegitimize Obama. It's the right that wants to annihilate its rivals. It's the GOP that's rejected compromise at every turn, launching a scorched-earth campaign to destroy Obama's presidency as best they can.
John Boehner and Paul Ryan aren't describing the folks they see in the White House, they're describing the folks they see at their own caucus meetings.
Obviously, Obama has a policy platform he hopes to implement, and to the extent Republicans stand in the way, he hopes to defeat them -- not victory for victory's sake, but as a means to an end. But it takes real paranoia to think this desire to govern is evidence of a president committed to "annihilation."
As I argued the other day, in most respects, the Boehner/Ryan line has it backwards -- the president would be quite pleased, actually, if the radicalized Republican Party was brought back to the American mainstream, and stood ready to work constructively with other policymakers (i.e., Democrats) on finding solutions to public policy challenges.
That's not an agenda based on conquest; it's the opposite. Republicans would probably be better positioned with the public if the party took Obama's advice and met him halfway.
But at this point, GOP officials refuse, suggesting they might very well belong in "the dustbin of history."