Negotiating with House Republicans isn’t just difficult because they refuse to compromise; it’s also because they don’t even appreciate the point of the exercise. Told, for example, that failure on the debt ceiling would lead to a disaster, the House GOP simply doesn’t believe the evidence.

It’s challenging enough trying to craft an agreement when the parties have the same goal. But what happens when the crew of the Titanic says, “The captain’s wrong; icebergs are no big deal”?

The trick is finding someone the crazies find credible. (thanks to T.K.)

Republican leaders in the House have begun to prepare their troops for politically painful votes to raise the nation’s debt limit, offering warnings and concessions to move the hard-line majority toward a compromise that would avert a federal default. […]

At a closed-door meeting Friday morning, GOP leaders turned to their most trusted budget expert, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, to explain to rank-and-file members what many others have come to understand: A fiscal meltdown could occur if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling. […]

The warnings appeared to have softened the views of at least some House members who, until now, were inclined to dismiss statements by administration officials, business leaders and outside economists that the economic impact would be dire if the federal government were suddenly unable to pay its bills. [emphasis added]

Right-wing freshman Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said he found the presentation, particularly the parts about skyrocketing interest rates, “sobering.”

Oh, now it’s “sobering”? We’re 17 days before the drop-dead crisis deadline, and now it’s dawning on some House Republicans that they’re not only playing with matches, but may actually torch the entire economy?

At this point, of course, I’ll take progress wherever I can find it. If some of the House GOP’s madness is “softening,” maybe they’ll be slightly more inclined to be responsible.

But I can’t help but find it interesting the limited pool of individuals Republicans are willing to listen to. The Treasury tells the House GOP caucus members they have to raise the debt ceiling, and Republicans don’t care. The Federal Reserve tells them, and they still don’t care. House Speaker John Boehner tells them, and that doesn’t work, either. Business leaders, governors, and economists tell them, and Republicans ignore all of them.

But Paul Ryan warns of a meltdown and all of a sudden, the House GOP is willing to pay attention.

I guess we should be thankful the radical House Budget Committee chairman is only wrong 90% of the time, and not 100%.

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.