Benen makes two points. First, he's not sure that Republicans believe that they lost against Clinton. If that's the case, then they certainly might charge ahead. Second,
Republicans have already backed themselves into a corner -- they've made the president out to be the devil; they've all but ruled compromising; and they've committed to a path that almost certainly ends in a government shutdown. GOP leaders may have even deluded themselves into thinking that they're more popular than Obama (they're not), and that if a shutdown hurts the economy, they'll avoid blame (they won't).In other words, Benen says, it may already be too late for Boehner; he's doomed if he avoids a confrontation, and he's doomed if he looses a confrontation. Given those options, his rational move may be to risk a shutdown, even if he's fully aware that it's a low-percentage play.
I'll add one thing to that: the even more tricky part for Boehner is that it's very possible that many conservative activists want the confrontation more than they want the underlying substantive policy. That's a marked contrast with 1994. No one, at least in my memory, was talking about a shutdown in fall 1994; there was a increased recognition in that fall, winter, and on into the next spring and summer that both sides were playing chicken, with a train wreck coming if neither side blinked (yes, that's a three-way mixed metaphor. Sorry), but while plenty of Republicans talked about forcing Clinton to back down, I don't recall many who were advocating a shutdown as a positive for its own sake. In 1995, Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole were perfectly willing to take yes for an answer, or perhaps 90% of yes; the problem for them was that Clinton was unwilling to give them that much. If this time around Tea Party activists will consider any agreement, no matter how much the Republicans achieve, as a sign that Boehner and the rest have sold them out (and if they have a solid number of allies in the House and Senate who will reinforce that belief)...well, that's an even more impossible hand to play.
The other thing I'll point out is that, as always, numbers matter. Boehner will have a lot more flexibility (assuming that he's Speaker, which of course is not a done deal, but it's what we're talking about here) if he has 235 Members in his conference than if he only has 220. That's not just true because the 200 might include a couple of moderates who would tilt the median preference against dramatic cuts in spending, but (and probably more so) because of the larger group of potential rejectionists who might attack a compromise from, well, call it the right, although it's more properly thought of as radical than conservative.
I should add: I think John Boehner is far more capable of handling internal negotiations within his conference, external negotiations with the president, and the public relations aspects of the battle than was Newt Gingrich. And it's worth remembering that this is all pretty speculative at this point, since we don't even know that Republicans will win the House, nor do we know what the politics of anything will look like a year from now. But I agree with Benen that Boehner's position may be a very difficult one.