At present the crossfire is intense. And internal.
John Boehner has promised the GOP House will do precisely what GOP Senator Ted Cruz has been exhorting all congressional Republicans to do--hang tough in defunding Obamacare--only to find that Mr. Cruz actually meant only the House members. Because Cruzism is preordained toast in the Senate. Always was.
"Harry Reid ... likely has the votes" to gut the gutting of Obamacare in any House-scribbled continuing resolution, said Cruz and fellow fundamentalist racketeers Marco Rubio and Mike Lee in a dime-dropping statement. In short, memo to the House: "You're it. Thanks, guys, and good luck in the midterm."
This, understandably, did not sit well with some of the House racketeers, who, being racketeers, well understand the racketeering penchant for poltroonish betrayal. "So far Sen Rs are good at getting Facebook likes, and townhalls, not much else. Do something," tweeted Arkansas' Rep. Tim Griffin, just as Cruz's fellow tea-partying Texan Blake Farenthold was telling CNN, "We gave them what they asked for; I was more hopeful they would be more positive about it and fight for it."
House leadership aides seethed as well. "It is disappointing to see that Wendy Davis has more balls than Ted Cruz," said one; another was more psychiatrically diagnostic: "They said nothing is impossible if you fight hard enough, and the minute the House announces the vote, they give up the fight? It's crazy." Bingo.
Which brings us back to Mr. Boehner, who's always been more of a mob associate than a made goon. This morning the NY Times editorial page foreshadows his political obit:
Mr. Boehner is playing the dangerous game of trying to placate the extremists for a few days. But, in the end, the burden will be squarely on his shoulders. If he allows the entire House, including Democrats, to vote on straightforward measures to pay for the government and raise the debt limit, the double crisis will instantly end. If he does not, he will give free rein to his party’s worst impulses [italics mine].
Boehner has, however, no choice here. In time he'll be squeezed into a bipartisan vote in the House. For now he has in effect kicked this turkey of fiscal madness to the Senate, which he knows, just as Ted Cruz knows, will return a cleaner CR. Then he'll declare his choicelessness. Presently he's playing less hardball than charades.
That, anyway, is my imagined plot to this ghoulish drama. Boehner will likely get clipped for his heroic, surprise-ending role, but heroism is being thrust upon him. He's got no choice.
What then? Third-party time for the Teasters? More savage, internal fire for a while, then a formal break from the GOP? Without Obamacare to hold as a hostage within the larger structure of the Republican Party, the Tea Party caucus has no reason for being within that party.