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Sunday, October 22, 2017

By attempting to use budgetary extortion to annul a law passed by both houses of Congress, found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and ratified by a presidential election, an inflamed minority inside the Republican Party is attempting something like a constitutional coup d’état.

Fallows: “there is no post-Civil War precedent for what the House GOP is doing now. It is radical, and dangerous for the economy and our process of government, and its departure from past political disagreements can’t be buffed away or ignored.”

Indeed, an increasing number of conscientious Republicans have grown alarmed. Former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson: “We are no longer seeing a revolt against the Republican leadership, or even against the Republican “establishment”; this revolt is against anyone who accepts the constraints of political reality. Conservatives are excommunicated not for holding the wrong convictions but for rational calculations in service of those convictions.”

The odds that Speaker Boehner fails to comprehend the radical nature of the Tea Party extortion threat, its nonexistent chances of prevailing, and the damage it’s doing to the GOP are vanishingly small. This is very far from his first rodeo. The suntanned golfer is an 11-term congressman who’s been involved in party leadership fights almost since arriving in Washington.

Even so, he’s caught in a trap of his own devising. Unwilling to allow any bill to reach the House floor that needs Democratic votes to pass—such as the current budget resolution—he’s found himself checkmated by 30 to 50 Tea Party zealots he needs to get anything done. To cross them would risk losing the Speakership. And that would never do.

Like many, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius sees Boehner as a total failure: “Unable to control his own caucus, negotiate effectively with the president or pass legislation, he flounders in office—a likable man who is utterly ineffective.”

More optimistically, Byron York depicts the Speaker employing a deliberate rope-a-dope strategy: “After another defeat or two, and under the pressure of a shutdown, Boehner will finally turn to the 30 and say, ‘We tried it your way, over and over. Now, the majority will pass a resolution.’”

Peace in our time.

AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm

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