With pretty good timing, the White House today followed up on John Boehner’s saber-rattling over the debt limit by signaling the president could accept a short-term debt limit extension.

And why shouldn’t he, so long as he’s not making any concessions to get it? It certainly helps make it clear to just about everybody that Republicans are the ones risking a debt default to secure goodies they can’t get without threatening to drag us all down to the economic equivalent of Davy Jones’ Locker. If he continues to hang tough on his “no negotiations” posture, Obama gives up nothing by signing any kind of unconditional debt limit increase that comes to his desk. And as noted earlier, in making this gesture he may have some very unlikely allies among conservatives who want the Big Confrontation to be over appropriations rather than the debt limit.

If the debt limit fight were a chess game, this latest move might well be described as a “check.”

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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.