Can Boehner save himself?

Republican house speaker John Boehner is in a big hole. His small Tea Party faction has so totally hijacked the Republican Party that there is no true majority – there may even be more Democrats than moderate republicans, with the Tea Party wackos adding enough R votes to give a majority.

The government shutdown is a bad thing, as has been thoroughly retailed, but maybe not an apocalypse. The bigger crisis will come if there’s still a hostage-taking mentality in two weeks, when the debt ceiling fight comes to a head. The shutdown is a minor drag to the economy, because of the lost pay of thousands of federal employees. It’s a big inconvenience to people heading to national parks and museums.

But, if the same crisis occurs over the possibility that the debt ceiling might be reached without extension, there will be serious trouble. An unprecedented default on US debt would cause an immediate panic in financial markets and lead to a worldwide economic depression – again, as we are slowly inching out of the 2007-08 crash. Long-term effects of having an untrustworthy dollar will be very severe. The Euro is in trouble, but perhaps global trade might shift to the Euro or the Japanese yen. Moving away from dollars in international trade means we are no longer as important economically and have less control over world trade.

So Boehner has no good choices. He can ride the bomb, or he can surrender to sanity, save the economy and the country, and quite possibly lose his speakership. Obama has nothing to lose, he doesn’t need to get re-elected. The only people who would blame him for this crisis are the ones who already blame him for everything including athlete’s foot. Harry Reid has said over and over that he’s done negotiating with hostage-takers.

The wackos are safe in their deep-red gerrymandered districts. It’s mostly the moderate districts where the incumbent is a sane Republican that there is likely to be a danger of losing the seat to a Democrat in 2014. If the Tea Party crashes the economy, they will drag moderates down with them. If Boehner thinks he’s got trouble now, would he prefer to be minority leader, or worse yet see a Louie Gohmert in his chair?

So yeah, he’s got few options. Here’s hoping he breaks for sanity and makes a speech saying something like, “I hate Obamacare. I tried as hard as I could to stop it, repeal it, defund it, and I couldn’t. But I will not wreck the economy for decades to come over this issue. So now I ask the members of my caucus to join me, and some of the opposition party, in passing a bill to re-open our government and pay the debts we have already incurred. I will also, when this bill has passed, call for a new vote among my caucus for Speaker of the House. I recognize that this will be seen as a surrender by many in my party, and I am willing to take the heat over it. But I also have confidence that I will still be the choice of the majority of Republicans to lead us onward.”

It’s not gonna happen. But if there was ever time for the famous crier to shed a tear, this would be it.

Update: maybe it will.


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