CAN BOEHNER LEAD?…. House Minority Leader John Boehner was part of the recent bailout negotiations, representing the interests and priorities of House Republicans. The word “leader” is, after all, right there in his title. He signed onto an agreement and took it to his caucus for their blessing.

It was, of course, a test of his credibility, not to mention his leadership skills. Obviously, given the result, we know things didn’t go well for Boehner, as two-thirds of his caucus ignored his wishes and made him look foolish (so foolish that he had to insist Republicans voted against the bill because Speaker Pelosi hurt their feelings).

So, can Boehner keep his job?

The bruising tally — coming on the heels of a weeklong revolt — had some GOP members asking privately whether Boehner can hold on to his leadership post. Boehner said he’s confident of his job, but the vote clearly took its toll.

The leader lost the support of some of his closest allies in the House — including Iowa Rep. Tom Latham and California Rep. Devin Nunes, two drinking buddies who helped lay the foundation for Boehner’s political comeback in 2006.

Another Boehner ally, Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter of Michigan, physically turned his back on the leader during a tense closed-door GOP conference meeting Sunday night.

People who were in the room said McCotter left abruptly after Boehner told members not to attack one another. Boehner tried to reach out to McCotter as he left. McCotter kept walking.

“I have some members who would do anything for me, and I talked to them, and it just killed them, absolutely killed them, when they told me they couldn’t vote yes,” Boehner told a small group of reporters after Monday’s stunning floor defeat.

Actually, those Republicans who opposed the package yesterday didn’t seem especially troubled at all. “Absolutely killed them”? They looked perfectly content to me.

Stepping back, though, something doesn’t add up here. House Republicans chose Boehner to lead and represent them, but on the year’s biggest vote, they blew him off. Boehner told the White House and congressional Dems he could deliver, but when push came to shove, he couldn’t — Boehner and his caucus were in two very different places.

Moving forward, then, why even put Boehner at the negotiating table? Either he speaks for his caucus or he doesn’t, and as of yesterday, he doesn’t. Doesn’t that necessarily suggest House Republicans should send someone else to speak on their behalf? And that this person, not Boehner, should be the party leader?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.