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In their evolution as political creatures conservatives have developed a genetic trait of eating their own.

It’s happened twice in the last month.

First it wasAustralian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was ousted by his center-right party after losing a snap internal vote for leader of the governing parliamentary caucus.

Then suddenly on Friday it was Speaker of the House John Boehner, who resigned, effective the end of October, before GOP backbenchers in the lower house of Congress could show him the door.

Boehner, worn out after years of holding together congressional Republicans, simply concluded leading the party had become, in the words of pundit Newt Gingrich, another ex-speaker, “unmanageable.”

While the specific politics of the Abbott and Boehner affairs are obviously different, the underlying problem is the same: Conservatives too often are focused on fighting amongst themselves rather than going on the offense against the left.

In Boehner’s case, it was impossible for him to continue as leader of the 247 Republicans in the House of Representatives when several of the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination were publicly undermining him, particularly on the hot-button issue of federal government funding for Planned Parenthood.

The Ohio Republican had put down past insurrections from right-wing backbenchers, but the public vote of no confidence from presidential candidates was just too much this time around.

Rank-and-file Republicans are mad. Strike that. Rank-and-file Republicans are furious.

They don’t care that Democrats control the White House and parliamentary procedure makes it all but impossible for the Senate’s majority Republicans to pass major pieces of the GOP manifesto. Nor do they care that majority in the upper house is at stake in next year’s election — putting some of the party’s senators from so-called blue or purple states in a difficult position for re-election.

They want congressional Republicans, particularly those in leadership, to toe the party line on matters of principle.

For them, if there was ever an issue to fight it was the dignity of all made in the image of God. The problem is too many on the right lack the discipline to avoid making it about abortion, which, let’s face it, is a settled matter until the composition of the Supreme Court changes.

Instead, the battle lines must be drawn over whether Planned Parenthood is fit to receive any federal funds in the wake of the horrendous videos revealing that the organization deeply rooted in the racist philosophy of eugenics is engaged in the harvesting and selling of body parts from aborted babies.

That could be a winnable fight, if House Republicans elect the right tactician as their next leader and speaker.

Dennis Lennox is a freelance columnist.

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