So John Boehner has finally (finally?) caved to the Tea Party lunatic fringe. As the country heads for a federal government shutdown and another ludicrous showdown over its borrowing limit, the Speaker of the House has decided to cast his lot with the most extreme members of his party. Rather than try to work with Democrats and the less insane members of the GOP to craft a political solution to these impending train wrecks, Boehner has decided to accept a Tea-Party strategy of vowing to pass needed financial legislation if and only if the budget includes no funding to implement the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare).
Not content with holding meaningless votes to repeal the ACA, Congressional Republicans have now decided to hold the economic fate of the nation hostage, rather than fund a piece of legislation (passed, we should remember, by a majority of duly elected representatives) that they don't like. We could, perhaps, excuse this band of rabble-rousers, who, let's face it, represent the back end of the IQ Bell Curve (their caucus includes that diplomatic dream-team of Michele "Spells Her Name with One 'L' 'Cause the First Lady Spells Hers with Two" Bachmann, Louie "Don't Cast Aspersions on my Asparagus" Gohmert, and Steve "La Raza" King). But what's Boehner's excuse?
Whatever you may think of John Boehner, you know that he knows this is a terrible idea: Even if he believes in the cause--which I'm not at all sure he does--he knows that, politically, this is a disaster: The Senate won't back any bill that calls for defunding the ACA, and even if it did, Obama wouldn't sign it. I guess he's assuming that, somehow, when the government gets shut down, the public will blame the Democrats, but he should ask Newt "Moonbase Alpha" Gingrich how well that strategy tends to work.
But what could Boehner do, you ask? Well, how about show some leadership? How about he goes up to these Tea Party "rebels" and says something like, "Look, you may think you're standing on principle, but you're also going to destroy the country and probably take the Republican Party with it. So here's the deal: You can say whatever you want, but when it comes time to do the business of the country, you toe the line. And if you insist on this kamikaze shit, I will make it my mission in life to see that you end up just like those kamikaze pilots: You will be stripped of all committee assignments. You will get no support from the Republican Congressional Committee when you run for re-election; and your district can forget about receiving anything in the way of federal spending as long as you are its representative."
Maybe that would work. Then again, these are people who just slashed billions of dollars from the food stamps program--a program, incidentally, that puts a huge amount of money in the pockets of Tea Party constituents. So appeals to reason--or even threats--would likely fall on deaf ears.