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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Chances are that when the GOP inevitably capitulates, the vote to end the government shutdown will be surprisingly one-sided.

And what with 72 percent of voters in a Quinnipiac University poll saying they disapprove of the shutdown, the retreat almost can’t happen soon enough to save the Republican Party from the charlatanism of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and screwball allies like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

Writing in the Washington Examiner, the well-connected conservative columnist Byron York estimates that as many as 175 of the 233 House Republicans are prepared to support a “clean” budget resolution stripped of references to the Affordable Care Act.

Embarrassing? Definitely. Beaten by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Obama, two weaklings they’d seen as sure to back down. An object lesson in believing your own bull…, well, your own propaganda.

However, there’s also safety in numbers. The fewer diehards holed up in the Tea Party’s self-constructed Alamo, the hollower their accusations of cowardice and treason will sound to sane GOP voters come the 2014 primary season.

For what it’s worth—the story is characteristically unsourced—Politico reports that “Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has privately warned House Republicans that they could lose their majority in 2014 as a result of shutting down the government.”

Well, no kidding. Parsing the Speaker’s evolving public statements, York suggests that he may be leaning toward allowing a vote on a clean resolution sooner rather than later—something Boehner could have done weeks ago if the gentleman had a spine.

Exactly how the third most powerful figure in the U.S. government found himself backed into this humiliating position is a matter of conjecture. With people throwing around Neville Chamberlin analogies of late—the British prime minister who bargained away Czechoslovakia to Hitler for an illusory peace in 1938—Speaker Boehner definitely qualifies for a dishonorable mention.

Because, you see, contrary to the hoary conventions of Washington journalism, this made-for-TV crisis has never really been a sign of “partisan gridlock” or any such thing. Even my own gibe about Republicans losing to Harry Reid and Barack Obama above is somewhat misleading.

The real fight hardly involves Democrats, one reason Reid’s had little trouble keeping the Senate majority in line. “As a matter of politics,” James Fallows writes in The Atlantic, “this is different from anything we learned about in classrooms or expected until the past few years. We’re used to thinking that the most important disagreements are between the major parties, not within one party; and that disagreements over policies, goals, tactics can be addressed by negotiation or compromise.

“This time, the fight that matters is within the Republican Party, and that fight is over whether compromise itself is legitimate.”

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