Yes, the House passed a clean debt ceiling bill, after John Boehner's caucus couldn't agree on conditions for a hike and Boehner told his caucus, in effect, that he was saving them from themselves. That's good news. Yes, it has now been demonstrated that Democrats can manage the Crazy Caucus, but only by not even bothering to reason with the crazies. So we've won. They've lost. We'll now hear that our long national tea party nightmare is over.
But it's not over. It's just at a stalemate. Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo is right:
... the conservative movement remains formidable when it comes to pushing Republican leaders to just say no, at all costs, to new economic and domestic initiatives that aren't essential to avert immediate crisis.So: they won't let us get the car out of the ditch, but hey, at least we've figured out how to prevent them from torching the car with everyone in America locked inside. Yay us!
The emerging dynamic is one where the tea party can no longer hold the basic functions of government hostage to conservative policy reforms, but has effective veto power over major new proposals that require bipartisan deal-making....
A swath of new proposals by President Barack Obama and Democrats has run into a brick wall of GOP opposition, thanks to tea party opposition.
Even on initiatives that are broadly popular, as in the case of emergency unemployment compensation and raising the minimum wage, conservatives have successfully blocked any movement forward. Senate Republicans have repeatedly filibustered the restoration of jobless benefits, and both Senate and House GOP leaders oppose raising the minimum wage....
An initiative that Republican strategists say is imperative to stave off electoral extinction -- immigration reform -- isn't going anywhere....
The problem is that this feeds into the mainstream's favorite narrative, which is that Republicans don't really bear a greater share of the blame for America's problems, and that everything is the fault of a handful of "extremists on both sides." Boehner knows that that narrative can help his party at the polls in 2014 and 2016, as do the big-money pro-Establishment Republicans who are fighting off primary challenges from crazies right now.
So the Crazy Party will continue to be the Stalemate Party until President Obama leaves office, quite possibly with bigger numbers in the House and senate starting next year. And maybe Republicans will run the table in 2017 -- and even if the GOP mainstream dominates, that mainstream is pretty damn extreme. What establishmentarians and teabaggers could do working together in a GOP-majority federal government starting in 2017 would make us long for the innocent days of occasional House teabagger hissyfits.
So John Boehner finally got the members of the Wolf Party to put on sheep's clothing. Lovely. They're still not sheep.