Steve Benen has the right of things when it comes to gaming out how John "Orange Julius" Boehner would have to approach government shutdown brinksmanship as majority leader of the House: he'd have no choice, and he knows it.
The House Minority Leader has already said scrapping the entire health care reform law is his top priority, and Boehner's caucus -- and the party base -- will expect follow-through. Boehner could pass a repeal bill in the House, but after it failed in the Senate or got vetoed, he wouldn't be able to say, "Well, we gave it a shot; let's move on to other issues now." It's too late for that -- defunding the law is already far too popular within the GOP. There's an expectation that the fight has to happen.
Bernstein's right that Boehner's role as Speaker might not survive a failed confrontation with the president, but I'm not sure Boehner's role as Speaker could survive if he decided not to force the confrontation.
OJ's riding his own Tea Party Frankenstein's Monster through the darkness and he no longer determines where and when it stops. I also believe that not only is a defund health care/shutdown fight inevitable should the GOP control the House, but an Obama impeachment fight as well.
Even if the Dems somehow hold on to the House, those two articles are going to be the entirety of the Republican agenda in 2011. And anyone who gets in the way of the Monster is going to get crushed. Boehner damn well knows what happens to Republicans who don't listen to the Tea Party now. The Monster has already left a trail of political corpses: Bob Inglis, Bob Bennett, now Lisa Murkowski and next on the Monster's menu is Mike Castle of Delaware.
Orange Julius will be tested very soon, and if he is found wanting, he will be replaced. Such is the nature of the beast the Republicans have unleashed.