Brian Beutler has this right:
Ever since he became speaker, Boehner has been reluctant to forge coalitions with Democrats, particularly when Democrats end up controlling the policy and supplying the overwhelming majority of votes. As a rule he’s only done this when sticking with the right would send the country past some deadline or over some cliff, and even then he’s acted reluctantly.
The bottom-line context underlying the temporary (and it’s certainly temporary) emergence of bipartisan peace in the House is the one I keep pounding on: at the end of the day, whether before or after a shutdown, John Boehner knows that eventually he and Barack Obama are going to wind up on the same side of something that funds the government going forward. That’s an absolute, unavoidable fact of appropriations deadlines. Which means that at the end of the day, whatever he does on the way there, Boehner is going to be a sellout and a RINO for agreeing with the Kenyan socialist in the White House.
Given that context, a shutdown was, and is, an almost certain disaster for the Speaker (and for whatever Republicans would wind up voting for the eventual measure that ends the shutdown). I’m still not sure why the House went down that road in October, but having done it once and (believing they) paid the price, it was even more unlikely that they would do it a second time.
But there’s no reason at all to believe that this means anything for those issues — most issues — in which there is no certainty that they end in agreement between Obama and Boehner.
Which means, for all those other issues, what matters is whether mainstream House Republicans want bills to pass (or, for GOP priorities, whether Obama and mainstream Senate Democrats want something to pass).
The rest, such as Boehner lashing out at conservative groups? It’s mostly, or entirely, window dressing. This is one that fits perfectly into a story of clear incentives — and the same incentives just aren’t there on many other issues.
[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]