The Happiest Man in Washington

Today marks the beginning of hard times for a lot of people who are going to be laid off or furloughed, or who won’t be able to do their jobs effectively. But at least one person is very happy: John Boehner. Ashley Parker of the New York Times explains how Boehner’s decision to tie his own hands and refuse to even look at ways out of the drooling idiocy of sequestration has given him back the most precious asset a Republican “leader” can have these days: the admiration of “true conservatives:”

Speaker John A. Boehner, the man who spent significant portions of the last Congress shuttling to and from the White House for fiscal talks with President Obama that ultimately failed twice to produce a grand bargain, has come around to the idea that the best negotiations are no negotiations.

As the president and Congressional Democrats have tried to force Mr. Boehner back to the table for talks to head off the automatic budget cuts set to take effect on Friday, Mr. Boehner has instead dug in deeper, refusing to even discuss an increase in revenue and insisting in his typical colorful language that it was time for the Senate to produce a measure aimed at the cuts.

“The revenue issue is now closed,” Mr. Boehner said Thursday, before the House left town for the weekend without acting on the cuts and a Senate attempt to avert them died. Mr. Boehner said the dispute with Democrats amounted to a question of “how much more money do we want to steal from the American people to fund more government.”

“I’m for no more,” he said.

While the frustrations of Congressional Democrats and Mr. Obama with Mr. Boehner are reaching a fever pitch, House Republicans could not be more pleased with their leader.

Boehner has finally figured out there’s nothing like wallowing in mindless destructive inactivity to get your groove back. So as others deplore the sequester as the ultimate product of his party’s inability to do anything other than obstruct, he’ll bellow his atavistic intransigence proudly, since the only people on this earth he cares about are applauding.

“We asked him to commit to us that when the cuts actually came on March 1, that he would stand firm and not give in, and he’s holding to that,” said Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana and chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “I think Friday will be an important day that shows we’re finally willing to stand and fight for conservative principles and force Washington to start living within its means. And that will be a big victory.”

Representative Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican who was elected on the 2010 Tea Party wave and has had his differences with the speaker, was similarly complimentary toward Mr. Boehner.

“He’s doing exactly what he said he was going to do, and I think it’s working to our favor and to his,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “I get the feeling that our party is probably more unified right now than it has been at any time in the last several months.”

This and the other expressions of deep satisfaction with the sequester being heard in Republican circles almost everywhere seem to have rapidly replaced last week’s talking points blaming the whole thing on the president. I guess they just can’t stop the joy in their hearts from bursting into view at the dismay of public employees and the fear and confusion of “takers” everywhere. But happiest of all is the Orange Man who for once can go to sleep at night without fear of being shivved in this sleep by Eric Cantor or humiliated by his own supposed followers. So enjoy the day, Mr. Speaker; it won’t get any better than this.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.