At his weekly news conference Thursday morning, Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked whether he believes the Americans for Tax Reform president and architect of the anti-tax pledge signed by an overwhelming majority of congressional Republicans is “a positive influence” on the House GOP conference.
The speaker shrugged his shoulders and paused at the podium for a full five seconds before responding.
“Listen, our focus here is on jobs,” Boehner said at last. “We’re doing everything we can to get our economy moving again and to get people back to work. It’s not often I’m asked about some random person in America.”
Asked whether he genuinely believed Norquist was a “random person” to members of his conference, Boehner replied, “Listen, our focus is on creating jobs, not talking about somebody’s personality.”
“Our conference is opposed to tax hikes because we believe that tax hikes will hurt our economy and put Americans out of work,” he added when asked about the impact of Norquist’s anti-tax pledge.
An odd expression which drew laughter from the assembled reporters but in a way Boehner wasn't joking. The idea behind the pledge has become so central to Republican thought, so fixed in their way of thinking that for someone like Boehner the question itself makes no sense, does not compute. That this "random person" just happens to be the originator of something which has been wholly incoporated into the Republican® brand is incidental.
This orthodoxy is now woven so deeply into the party’s identity that all but 13 of 288 GOP lawmakers in Congress have signed a formal pledge not to raise taxes. The strategist who invented the pledge, Grover G. Norquist, compares it to a brand, like Coca-Cola, built on “quality control” so that Republican voters know they will get “the same thing every time.”
Conformity is comforting to Republicans.