There's been a lot of stuff today and over the weekend about how little sway John Boehner has within the Republican conference. I do think that there's one thing Boehner has going for him, though, that I haven't seen mentioned: the last thing that Eric Cantor should want would be an insurrection right now that would leave him Speaker.
As I've said, one way or another, eventually, the debt limit is going to be raised (I suppose the exception is if Barack Obama invokes the 14th amendment, but I think that's relatively unlikely). Could be after a technical default, or a market cataclysm, but it's eventually going up, and with the support of whoever is Speaker at that point. I'll add: one way or another, there will be spending bills passed to allow the government to stay open in the next fiscal year. Just as with the debt limit, it's going to take cutting a deal of some sort with the Democrats, and the Speaker is going to have to endorse the deal. Could come after a government shutdown, but eventually it will happen.
And yet important segments of the GOP, at the elite and the mass level, just reject the entire notion of compromise. In general, and with our Kenyan anti-colonialist socialist president in particular. Whoever is Speaker will have to compromise (and given the situation, it's going to be the Speaker who is the most visible GOP compromiser).
The odds are very good that the differences between John Boehner and Eric Cantor have nothing to do with policy positions or ideology; the differences have to do with where they sit. Indeed, I think Cantor is going to have to wind up supporting the debt limit deal and the FY 2012 spending deal, but at least he'll be able to blame Boehner for it, and allow the crazier GOP Members of the House (and the rank-and-file) to maintain an illusion that they would get whatever they wanted if only their leaders didn't sell them out.
If, that is, Boehner is still around.
And so it's very much in Cantor's interest for now to keep Boehner right where he is.