What Greg Sargent said:
This latest move from a shutdown-based strategy against Obamacare to a debt limit-based one (presuming it will even happen) is part of a larger pattern, in which GOP leaders try to talk conservatives out of the favored insane and dangerous strategy of the moment by promising another confrontation around some other leverage point later. Indeed, GOP leaders have done exactly this in the past, in order to avoid a confrontation over — yup — the debt ceiling...Here's the thing: no matter what happens -- no matter what the Speaker does, or who the Speaker is -- the Speaker is going to be the squish in the little morality play being staged by conservatives. Why? Because on true must-pass legislation under the current conditions of divided government, at the end of the day the Speaker is going to support, tacitly or explicitly, a deal with the Democratic Senate and the Kenyan Islamist-Atheist Socialist in the White House. Because eventually (before or after a shutdown, before or after a debt limit breach) the must-pass thing will pass, and the only way that happens is that it passes both Houses and is signed by the president. Which means that the Speaker goes along with something that the Democrats can live with.
Now we are being asked to believe that Republicans will use the debt limit — on which they caved last time — to force concessions on Obamacare. But the problem is that the timing of all of this makes this strategy even more suspect this time.
And the way that Capital-C Conservatives prove that they're real Conservatives and not RINOs is by opposing whatever that deal is, and by making the Speaker the scapegoat. If only they had held their breath even longer, and turned an even more beautiful shade of blue, surely then the Democrats (who are both incredibly devious partisan fighters and wimps about to cave any second now) would have surrendered. The fault is with their traitorous leaders. Always.
What follows from this is a few things...
1. Boehner's kick the ball down the road might be working not because he's duping hard-line conservatives in his conference but because they need him to do it for their story.
2. Boehner's position is relatively safe, as long as he wants it in these conditions (and yeah, most Members who get on the leadership ladder at all really, really, really want to be Speaker for Life, whatever the conditions it's under) -- in large part because the opposition to him is structural, not personal, and whoever is next in line would have exactly the same problems. And everyone knows it. So the rest of the leadership is content to wait for a better time to grab the big chair -- and even the nuttiest of the Crazy Caucus don't really want to be toppling a Speaker once a month.
3. As I've been saying for a while: the specific demands of those who aren't going to vote for the eventual deal really don't matter very much.
None of this means there won't be a shutdown or a debt limit disaster. Boehner will still need the votes, and that's going to be hard; even beyond that, brinkmanship always carries with it the danger of miscalculation.
But, yeah, the Speaker has developed a solid record of ducking disaster in these showdowns, and there's a good chance he's on course to do it again.
And: nice catch!