But the real issue here probably comes down to Boehner’s weakness, institutional and personal. It’s a question the White House has had from the beginning and suspects the worst on — that John Boehner can’t actually deliver any deal, almost no matter what’s included in it. Someone on Twitter just called him the rodeo clown of conservative politics, which about captures it.We've been treated to a full meltdown among our True Progressive (TM) friends for the past two days—while the nation is still raw over the Newtown massacre—over the reports leaking out that President Obama is going to "cave" to Boehner and give him the Keys to the Kingdom, turning Social Security over to the corporatists and making you wait until you're on your deathbed to qualify for Medicare. It's predictable, and really not worth going over in too much detail. Much like the bomb throwers on the Right, those on the Left have a preternatural hatred of this president, distrusting him as much as denizens of Red State do, and look at any action and statement from him or his Administration as prelude to a betrayal. This is merely another milestone in the infantilization of our political culture, where total defeat is to be preferred to messy compromise in which you achieve at least some of your aims.
So, as with Mr. Marshall, let's focus on what Obama has been able to accomplish in the short few weeks since negotiations began in earnest.
During the last hostage negotiation, John Boehner wouldn't take a "grand bargain" where the ratio of revenue to cuts was 1:4. He couldn't sell that to his caucus, as it would have been seen to be a victory for compromise, which in the Tea Party dominated House was anathema.
Now? Boehner has agreed, if the reports are correct, to a 1:1 ratio between revenue and cuts. Good, no? Well, yes, but here's the rub: if he couldn't sell the 2011 grand bargain to his membership, he certainly won't be able to sell this.
But here's the other thing: the big business community, mainstay of the GOP, has pretty much come out in favor of this grand bargain. They control the purse strings. So Boehner has to contend with that.
It's gone beyond that, however. The speaker has no control over his party. No one does, not him, not Cantor, not any other putative candidate for the Speakership. What Obama has done in a few weeks is reveal, once and for all, that the Republican Party as it stands today is totally unready to govern. Boehner won't bring any bill to the floor that doesn't have the support of his membership. But there is no bill that he could bring that would have that support.
The reason for this is very simple: any resolution will be seen as a victory for Obama. If he and Boehner come to an agreement, the public will see it as due mostly to the President's efforts. If we go off the cliff, the public has already made it clear that it will blame Boehner and his party, and demand that it follow the President's and Democrats' lead.
As I've said in other pieces, it's been obvious to me that Obama's overarching goal has been to break the 30 year long Republican fever which has gripped this country's governance. We are now facing a situation where those who bankroll the GOP will not countenance taking a risk with a rise in taxes and drastic spending cuts—and certainly not any more dithering with the debt limit. Boehner will be forced to take the President's offered hand, and pass a deal which will depend on Nancy Pelosi providing votes from her caucus. If the Tea Party is true to its word, this will set off a political bloodbath. This doesn't bode well for the next 2 years of governance; but it does set up the Democrats—backed by OFA's organizational muscle—to wrest the House away from Boehner and Cantor. Yes, the math doesn't favor it happening; but it didn't favor it happening going into 2006, either.
In his analysis, Marshall goes on to say that Boehner is like Mahmoud Abbas, and it might be time for the Democrats to negotiate with the Hamas wing of the GOP. That's a bit further than I'd go; Abbas has no partner on the Israeli side; whereas Boehner knows all too well that Obama is waiting, with that welcoming grin on his face, for the Speaker to face the inevitable. Doing so will upend the Republicans. Where the pieces fall on the right will be hard to predict. But the country will see once again that there is one party working to govern for the good of all, and one party that is a cauldron of dysfunction. Win-win indeed.