So at the risk of getting ahead of myself here just a bit, the appropriations crisis is merging with the debt limit crisis. And as everybody’s favorite source for GOP thinking, National Review‘s Robert Costa, tells us today, John Boehner is determined not to relent on what just about everyone is calling an insanely untenable position on the CR because he’s got to keep GOPers together for the real ball game, the debt limit. Why? Kathleen Parker says that’s the rainbow that yielded a pot of gold for Boehner last time it appeared:
What Republicans hope to accomplish by tying demands to the debt ceiling is a grand bargain to include a package of entitlement and tax reform. Sound familiar? The president can refuse to negotiate, but at 3 a.m. when the phone rings and it’s Angela Merkel inquiring just what the hell is going on, it won’t be John Boehner’s phone ringing. It will be President Obama’s. That’s leverage. During the last debt-ceiling battle, Boehner managed to secure more than $2 trillion in cuts and no taxes.
So the conviction that Obama will eventually cave on the debt limit is what is making it possible for Boehner to walk the path Ted Cruz and Jim DeMint and their House minions have laid out for him.
Now I don’t know anything about the president’s relationship with Boehner. But it’s becoming a matter of national security for him to find some way to take him aside, maybe give the Speaker a cigarette from his secret stash, and say: “I will see you in Hell before I negotiate over the debt limit. And if you let a default happen, I will devote the rest of my presidency to making sure you, personally, bear the blame, and go down in history with our most despised traitors and criminals. For generations, little school children in Ohio will cross themselves and make hex signs when your name is mentioned. So do not, do not, go back and tell your crazy people they can win if they just stick together.”
This sort of attitude adjustment needs to happen sooner rather than later, before Boehner takes another step down the path he is currently contemplating.