Boehner interview still making waves

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is interviewed by Bob Schieffer on July 19th for the July 21st edition of "Face the Nation."

By Marshall Cohen

(CBS News) Political pundits this week continued to digest House Speaker John Boehner's recent interview on "Face The Nation."

In the interview that aired Sunday, Boehner portrayed himself as the shepherd of the House, responsible for guarding the institution instead of telling members how to vote. As a result, he declined to weigh in on comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

CBS News political director John Dickerson mused in a Slate column that Boehner's hand was forced into his laid-back approach to the speakership. What critics call "leading from behind," Dickerson sees as a leader who adapted to a changing game, with members who don't respond well to carrots and sticks.

The most talked-about moment from the interview came when "Face The Nation" host Bob Schieffer pressed Boehner on the endless Washington gridlock. The 113th Congress is one of the least productive and least popular in history - only 21 bills have been signed this year by President Barack Obama.

"We should not be judged by how many new laws we create, we ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal," Boehner said, referring to Republican-led efforts in the House to repeal Obamacare.

Dana Milbank said in a Washington Post column that Boehner's comments - and Obama's upcoming economic speeches -- reflect just how far away Washington is from accomplishing big things. Notions of a "grand bargain" on deficit reduction, or a bipartisan deal on reforming the antiquated tax code, aren't even on life support any more. These goals are unreachable for the rest of Obama's term, Milbank says.

A cover story from Tuesday's edition of the National Journal Daily highlighted the "wave of criticism" unleashed on Boehner in response to his comments on passing and repealing legislation. Democrats took aim at the speaker, but even nonpartisan experts warned his comments could have consequences.

Boehner may have received some good news, however, from a new CBS News poll released Wednesday.

Since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, Boehner oversaw 39 votes to repeal or defund Obama's signature health care law. The two most recent votes came last week, and Boehner told Schieffer that there would be many more votes in the future to repeal the "train wreck" health care law.

Obamacare remains unpopular and 39 percent of Americans want it fully repealed, according to a CBS News poll released Wednesday. This figure has increased since last year, but 36 percent of Americans still want to keep or expand the law. A deep divide persists among the public, mainly based on partisan identification: Democrats support Obamacare and Republicans are solidly against it.