I have a new column up at TNR arguing that Eric Cantor would be nuts to support a coup right now against John Boehner. Basically, it's the wrong time for anyone who has any interest in being a long-term Speaker, because right now whoever is Speaker will have the same problems that Boehner has right now.
But you know what? Part of the problem right now appears to be that sensible Republicans have massively overlearned the lessons of 2010 -- in particular, the cases of the handful of Republican Senators who were denied renomination. Sensible Republicans -- and I'm convinced that at least half, and perhaps well over half, of the House Republican conference fits into that category -- know very well that the line pushed by the Michele Bachmanns of the world is all a bunch of nonsense, and quite unpopular with the general public anyway. Sensible Republicans, no matter how conservative, realize that the current political context requires that they will eventually have to compromise with Barack Obama (and the Senate) over the budget and, well, everything else.
They appear, however, to be convinced that they're all one false move away from being defeated in a primary -- or, in Boehner's case, from being deposed in an internal House coup. Guess what? It's not true! In 2010, the big Tea Party year, almost every Republican Member of the House was renominated, and most GOP Senators were, too. Moreover, the exceptions were all cases that won't apply to most Republicans in Congress. Bob Bennett was defeated in a caucus/convention system, not a primary. Arlen Specter (who was chased out of the party, but probably would have lost) and Lisa Murkowski were both at risk mainly because of abortion.
And as I didn't quite say in the TNR piece, I wouldn't bet against John Boehner at least making it through this Congress, and perhaps a lot longer.
To be sure: paranoia about re-nomination is only to be expected; traditionally, Members of Congress have acted paranoid about re-election, no matter how many of them actually did get sent back every two (or six) years. Unfortunately, while obsessive and massively overstated concern about re-election has all sorts of benefits in a democracy, obsessive and massively overstated concern about re-nomination is much more of a mixed bag.