I thought Pema Levy's post about blame for the debt limit mess was excellent -- with the important caveat that we're still waiting on a lot of the behind-the-scenes information that could help confirm what most of us suspect.
Levy's point is that the GOP leadership should have been preparing rank-and-file Members from the start for an eventual compromise, no matter what they were saying in public. After all, they knew that eventually the House was going to have to vote for a debt limit increase, one way or another (at least barring unilateral action by the president, which presumably wasn't the goal). So if things go wrong, John Boehner, and especially Eric Cantor, deserve the blame.
I think that the key evidence for this is in Mitch McConnell's plan to dump responsibility on the president, but to surrender on GOP-backed spending cuts. At the time, I interpreted McConnell's plan as primarily a warning to Republicans: if you don't cut your best deal with the Democrats, you'll wind up getting nothing, and still the debt limit will go up, because it eventually must. The question is: did Boehner (or Cantor) ever make that case in private to GOP Members of the House? Did they do anything to educate their conference on either the substantive or political realities of the situation? Perhaps we'll find out that they did, and that what we've been seeing in public is nothing more than really good play-acting. If not, however -- if House Republicans really don't understand the policy they're dealing with, or the political context -- then I agree that Republican leaders are very much to blame.