I shouldn’t take politics so personally and I shouldn’t feel so strongly the stretch of tenterhooks from the mean-spirited, delusional shitshow that is this nation’s Republican party, but I do. I live here, after all, and the empathetic fabric of my skin is stretched just as tightly as anyone’s. I grew up in Republican-land and I was even a productive member of their society. But actually being hard-working and productive didn’t mean I got credit for it. I didn’t. Every generation realizes, at some point, that working is only a tiny part of doing well in the rat race. It took me longer than most to figure this out. When I realized that hard work meant little, when I realized that I’d get much farther if I bought a giant shitty truck, gained 50 pounds and joined the pseudo-anarchist right-wing, when I realized that I’d have to repeat Limbaugh or Randian talking-points at work and around my buddies, I lost all desire to martyr myself to the Protestant work ethic. I refused to live my life as a sleeper agent.
A good way to make an enemy is to restrict opportunities to members of a club. The stupidest way to make an enemy is to restrict membership of that club to the dumb, the lazy, and the mendacious.
My strategic analysis of the current situation is that unless a discharge petition goes forward, John Boehner is going to have to ride this out to the end. The people who think he’s going to be a statesman and break the Hastert Rule are mistaken. He doesn’t identify with anyone; he and his are very well set up; there is no motivating impulse that will wobble him from his historic path. He might even see a path to the Oval Office. If so, then we are fucked because there’s no arguing with a delusional wannabe-tyrant. That seems like a stretch given Boehner’s orangey loucheity, but greater turns in history are known.
More specifically short-term, John Boehner has already lost in any reasonable scenario. His only option for a win is the unreasonable scenario. If no Rs vote to discharge a D bill, the next step would be for the executive to invoke Article IV to avoid default. If Obama invokes the constitution to make interest payments then Boehner must either choose to give up (giving up his majority and maybe his seat in the election) or keep going without a budget. He would have nothing to lose. A louche and callous character argues for destruction, in this scenario.
What does Boehner see at the end of this path? Will he throw a couple dozen Rs under the bus along with his majority? Is someone planning a coup? That really is the only option for the Tea Party right now. Anything less will be another humiliation for them. They can’t win national elections; they can’t win much territory without gerrymandering; their only option is to continue the shutdown, assume that Boehner won’t bend the Hastert Rule, and keep their fellows from breaking ranks, somehow. Do we instead get an entire year of shutdown even without a default?
An entire year until the next election is a long time. An actual slide into deep recession maintained by Boehner’s adoption of the Tea Party mantle is a path into uncertain darkness. Can the country hold out until the election, then through the lame-duck Congress all the way to January 2015? I don’t think it can. We’ll either get enough Rs signing a discharge of a continuing resolution, some kind of coup, or John Boehner acting like a human being. I predict the former, followed by a D-House next November. Then an attempted coup. Followed by Boehner crying real human tears that smell of citrus.