What’s The Endgame?


Ambers runs through various possibilities:

The most likely scenario is one where Boehner folds but pretends he didn’t, and Obama negotiates, but only in words. Privately, Boehner would prefer this solution because it would not actually concede any significant ground to the Tea Party, and if the optics are right, he could emerge from this fracas with roughly the same amount of power as before it started. What would this look like? A play, consisting of three acts. Act 1: Republicans promise to pass a clean CR and debt ceiling increase in exchange for specific words from Obama that he can be held to; Act 2: Obama proclaims publicly that he has said all along that he has been willing to negotiate with Republicans, and then says something like, “and I look forward to talking to them right after the the government opens on subjects ranging from tax reform to reducing the burden of entitlements.” Act 3: Boehner seizes on that sentence and tries to sell it to his conference. An unofficial whip count confirms this, but he says publicly that he will do the honorable thing and not allow the nation to go into default SO THAT Republicans can hold Obama accountable on his promise. Finale: the votes pass.

Waldman considers the situation from Boehner’s point of view:

[T]here is not a single factor that over time is making a GOP victory more likely. My guess is that Boehner knows this but is hoping that the fight itself will win him enough breathing space with the conservatives to keep his job when its over. He’ll lose, but he’ll show them that he was willing to inflict some harm on the country in the process, which will deplete their rage just enough.

Think about that for a moment. The only way the Speaker can keep his job is to inflict serious economic damage on the country. That’s the measure of his mettle. We can get lost in the tick-tock of this, and forget to step back and realize that this remains one of the most reckless, nihilist gambits by any political party in my adult lifetime – up there with impeaching Clinton, which, at least, wouldn’t have plunged the entire world into a second depression.

The more extremist they get, the more dangerous they become. If we can survive this self-induced fiasco, we have surely one overwhelming imperative – to get as much constructive things done in the next year and then launch a huge effort to rid the House of these fanatics in 2014. It won’t be easy, but it’s getting urgent.

(Photo: US Speaker of the House John Boehner leaves after speaking at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, October 8, 2013. By Saul Loeb/Getty.)