This is from Robert Costa, who is doing surprisingly good work over at NRO.
A clean CR has never been an option. Peter King of New York and his allies may want one, but the leadership privately believes it’d almost certainly raise tensions within the ranks and cripple their negotiating position.Instead, the leadership is digging in for an extended impasse with Senate Democrats. Based on my latest conversations with insiders, their plan isn’t to eventually whip Republicans toward a clean CR and back down after a few days of messaging the shutdown, as some have believed; it’s to keep fighting, and, in the process, preserve the House GOP’s fragile unity — and maybe, if they’re lucky, win a concession from Senate majority leader Harry Reid.But that unity, more than anything, is critical for Boehner, especially as the debt limit nears. Per his allies, his fear is, if he brings up a clean CR, he’d be seen as conceding to Reid, who’s seen as the villain of villains within the House GOP. Thirty to forty conservatives would likely revolt against such a maneuver, and so would their backers in the conservative movement. In the press, he’d likely be cheered for a profile in courage; within the House, the decision would be seen by his critics on the right as a betrayal of the highest order. There is nothing they detest more than the idea of caving, and Boehner knows that.Now, Boehner is aware that, on paper, potentially more than 100 House Republicans would be open to a clean CR should he bring one to the floor. But the internal chaos such a move could cause could be devastating, and with a major debt-limit battle approaching, he won’t let a CR vote divide his conference. That’s also why, on Monday, he took to the floor to personally whip the rule vote for his final CR proposal. He wanted to make sure King wasn’t creating a stir with his clean-CR pitch, and he wanted to remind members that sticking together was the key to surviving a showdown.Pushing back against Reid and forcing him to cut a deal is another leadership objective. Behind the scenes, they’re irritated by his daily killing of anything the House passes and are eager to make sure he shares some of the political pain from the shutdown. There’s no rush to give him what he wants. Besides, many House Republicans believe Senate Democrats are only hanging with Reid on every vote because he has assured them the House GOP will break, and they think if they can incrementally put pressure on Reid’s conference, his grip could be weakened.
What is interesting to me are the underlying assumptions--Boehner "has to keep" his caucus happy because of the Republican insistence on the "Hastert Rule" (I put it in quotes not because I have a bunch of them lying around but because, of course, the Rule is not a rule but a wish, a hope, and a curse. He can't pass anything righteously, in his caucus's eyes, if the Democrats would sign on to it in any significant numbers because if they were to approve the actual bill that would be a sign to his caucus that the bill was too soft, or a trick of Obama's Jedi powers. Also, as an aside, it all comes down to the personal--not the professional. They hated Nancy Pelosi, and now they hate Reid? He's a "villain" in their eyes? One of the softest spoken and most anodyne of public figures, a man so forgettable that when he comes into a room people say "who left?" When the routine functions of government become some kind of mythic war of good against evil--look out. All bets are off. The Republican cloak room must be some kind of crazy soviet hive of rage, spite, fear, and backstabbing as each of these swaggering lickspittles tries to gain a little foothold accusing the others of not being truly devoted to the cause.
In addition Costa takes for granted, because the Republican party does, that it has a legitimate need to hold a fight over the debt ceiling. They are treating the debt ceiling like it is a normal part of the budgeting process, part of the annual round of funding, rather than the part of the script where you sign your credit card reciept before leaving the restaurant. This has, of course, been observed many times before but it bears repeating--their world bears no resemblance to our earth world. In the real world the 14th amendment ought to bar them from refusing to raise the debt limit because to do so is to say that the previous congress (which many of them were in) did not lawfully appropriate the money which we now owe or that they are repudiating the payment of our just debts.
To refresh everyone's memory we passed the 14th amendment because we were about to accept back into political life our former rebels and traitors--these men, once they were back in public life, were quite likely to repudiate the war debts of the victors or to once again engage in sabotage of the union. That is what this neo-southern confederate rump is doing: they are sabotaging the US Government and using the budget to do so. They are both smarter and more cowardly than the previous batch of Confederates. Lets hope the current President can save the Union.