What Does the Orange Man Want?

As usual, it’s extremely useful to consult Stan Collender on how the fiscal end-game may work out this week or (if the can is kicked down the road) soon enough. His latest take discusses the roles that Ted Cruz, the House Freedom Caucus, and even House Democrats might play in making a government shutdown happen or not happen. But most interestingly, he notes there is one player in the saga who can most definitely cause a shutdown pretty much on his own if he so wishes: yes, that presumed shutdown opponent John Boehner:

This is the alternative that so far has gotten no attention, but there is a real possibility a government shutdown will be just what Boehner needs to survive as speaker and get a clean CR through the House.

The shutdown would appease the Freedom Caucus and defuse its effort to replace the speaker because Boehner would be doing what the caucus wants by refusing to bring a CR to the floor that maintains funds for Planned Parenthood. A few days or a week later when the appetite for a shutdown has changed, Boehner would be able to do what he’s done on several past budget-related bills: say they fought the good fight, that the fight will continue in other ways and get permission from the GOP caucus to work with Democrats to pass the CR.

A shutdown is almost certain to happen if Boehner concludes it will be good for him personally.

Don’t be shocked if that’s exactly how the deal goes down. Thinking of Boehner’s motives, I’m reminded of an ancient National Lampoon cartoon of a judge glaring angrily at an insolent-looking young man in the dock and saying: “You better show some respect, sonny. I had to kiss a lot of ass to get this job.” Boehner may not be as ready to give up his gavel as some observers think.

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.