Ezra Klein writes that "it’s clear now what Plan C is going to have to be: Boehner is going to need to accept the simple reality that if he’s to be a successful speaker, he’s going to need to begin passing legislation with Democratic votes." That, however, portends a vanishing post-Jan. 3 scenario for the speaker-cum-speaker, for "a conservative spoiler ... could very possibly deny Boehner the 218 votes he needs to become speaker, clearing the way for a more moderate candidate like Eric Cantor to unite the party."
After choking down the deployment of both "moderate" and "Eric Cantor" in the same sentence, let's entertain another, longer-range and fundamentally deeper possibility--that of a Plan D.
For starters, whoever the next speaker is--Boehner, Cantor, Kevin McCarthy or any other compromise candidate--his reign will come pre-packaged as a political catastrophe. If on any piece of House legislation he's able to rally the radicals to vote with the moderates, the legislation must by inexorable definition be unacceptably radical to the Democratic Senate and president--for otherwise the radicals would have been un-rallyable. Hence any "successful" Republican speakership of the 113th Congress is almost certainly doomed: no sober, sane legislation will ever make it out of the House, while all the wacko tea-party stuff will never make it through the Senate or to the president's desk for veto.
Here's a Plan D, however, which I concede that at the present has as much chance of lift-off as Louie Gohmert receiving an honorary doctorate from Harvard, but, perhaps, somewhere down the road ...
Whatever the true number of House Republican moderates is--authentic conservatives, that is, in the mold of Ohio's Steve LaTourette--that number could caucus in the 113th Congress as the Conservative Party, just as the tea partiers have their own narrowly partisan label. Further, these moderates (dutifully organized for the advancement of the nation's welfare, rather than nihilistic intransigence) could openly cooperate with the Democratic minority and thus promise passage of any obstructed sanity--if only they, in a kind of temporary fusion with House Democrats, were allowed to vote on responsible legislation. They'd be denied by the Republican leadership which remained beholden to tea partiers, but Conservatives would have made their move, have issued their bid.
Politically, House moderates--the Conservatives--have more to lose than anyone. It is they, many coming from purpled swing districts, who, as a result of an increasingly despairing electorate, are the more likely ones to find themselves unemployed in 2015. But should they begin caucusing now in the embryonic form of a conscientious, separatist Conservative party, they'd do both themselves and the nation some immeasurable good.