I almost feel sorry for the Orange Man.
If you listened to his rhetoric since becoming Speaker, it was clear that he wanted to get something done. That he wanted to legislate. It was even clear that he understood compromise had to be part of the solution. At one point in the process, I even think he approached negotiation in good faith, but that is all in the past. Today, John Boehner is a lost and frightened man.
He came to Washington as an old school big bidnizz grifter. Back in the 1990s he was passing out checks from lobbyists on the House Floor. He smokes, drinks and likes to play the game the way it was played back in the day when things were decided in smoked filled rooms. He likes to pretend he’s in charge, but he knows it isn’t true. When the wingnuts swept into Washington he became the Speaker because he was next in line, but from day one he was viewed as a squish (a wingnut term of art coined by Grover Norquist and jack Abramoff back when they ran the College Republicans in the early eighties). He was never trusted by the Teabaggers. They let hold the Speaker’s Gavel, but they kept him on a short leash.
When Boehner moved to make a grand bargain compromise with the Democrats–and especially President Obama–his leash was yanked and yanked hard. Holding that leash in one hand is Eric Cantor and in the other, Eric holds a knife waiting for a clean shot at the Orange Man’s back.
Over the weekend I went to a dinner in Washington. There were quite a few folks there from both Parties. And it was not a big surprise to find out that some of them were involved in negotiations about the debt ceilings and other matters. It was an topic of conversation. When I asked what was happening and what might happen, several folks mentioned that the key to understanding debt fight and John Boehner was to understand that he is fighting with Cantor for his political life.
The Orange Speaker on the teevee tonight sounded like a broken man trying to puff himself up with tough sounding word strings. He sounded like a man desperate to appease the folks who view him as a squish and convince them that he can bring the crazy and the irrational hatred of Obama as well as any nutter. It was a plea to the radicals who have captured his Party to let him keep his job, but it is too late for that.
If a last minute compromise is made and the debt level is raised, they will blame Boehner and stick in the knife. They may even decide to not give Boehnor’s latest effort enough votes to pass just to hasten his exit from the stage. And if their antics lead to a default, downgrade, damage to the economy and more harm to the wingnut brand, they will blame Orange John for that and stick in the knife. And if Obama invokes the 14th Amendment at the eleventh hour or finds another way to free the hostage and save the Nation–that will be another reason to stab Boehner in the back and be done with him.
If Boehner survives this manufactured crisis, a new one will begin the moment it is resolved and fresh knives will be sharpened. Orange John walks with an expiration date and a target stamped on his back. Whatever happens, I expect that Boehner will resign to spend more time with his family in the near future.
And then we will have Speaker Cantor and the fun can really begin.
I almost feel sorry for Boehner, but not really. He has put his ambition and Party ahead of the Nation and when Cantor sticks in the knife with a twist to the right, Orange John will be getting just what he deserves.
Too bad this intra-Party power struggle has to take out the global economy as collateral damage, but so it goes.
And with that, how about an Open Thread.