Boehner's implosion saves Obama

December 21, 2012

Just yesterday I was moaning about how President Barack Obama was about to give away the store -- again -- but thanks to John Boehner’s implosion, he’s been saved from himself.

In the meantime, we’ve been spared a possible Social Security cut and a few other unnecessary giveaways Obama had put on the negotiating table. At least for now.

Why did GOP Speaker of the House walk away from Obama’s deal? Well, maybe because conservative groups like Club for Growth, Heritage Foundation (Oh, Jim DeMint!), Freedom Works and every Tea Party club in the country was against a deal of any kind, especially if it involved raising taxes on at least two gazillionaires. Or maybe because Boehner removed a bunch of uncooperative right wingers from crucial committee posts just a few days ago -- talk about bad timing! -- and they decided it was payback time, making it impossible for the Speaker to get the necessary votes out of his own conference.

What exactly did Boehner think was going to happen when he walked away from Obama’s swag bag to pursue a bill that not only the president had promised to veto (yeah, I know: he’d also promised Social Security wouldn’t be a part of the deal) but that hard-knuckled bespectacled Nevada Mormon, Harry Reid, had promised to asphyxiate upon arrival on the senate floor? He probably thought that he’d use the bill to publicly posture, hoping Obama would follow historical patterns and agree, if not to the $1 million tax threshold, maybe higher than the $400,000 he’d already bowed to.

I don’t know, maybe Boehner was set up by Eric Kantor, the Republican House Majority Leader. Last time around, Kantor was a thorn not just in Obama’s side but also in Boehner’s. This time, he and that sneak Paul Ryan -- anybody seen him lately? -- decided to fade stage right and let Boehner do whatever.

And maybe, just like with those Mitt Romney polls that showed him winning up until the last minute, Boehner began to believe his own BS, began to think, like Kantor said less than 48 hours ago and with such certainty, that he had the votes.

What’s next? The Democrats will likely, and heroically, draft something now and start recruiting Republicans who don’t want to go over the cliff. Or the Senate will act on House bills it’s already got, reconciling something to death. Or we’ll go over the cliff, which no one wants but which will be blamed squarely on the GOP now. The deadline is year’s end.

For Boehner, though, the worst cliff might come a little later: January 3, when the GOP elects a Speaker.