New Republic's Noam Scheiber roots for a government shutdown, assuming we're destined to reexperience the sui generis splendor of one or another version of "conservative" fiscal management:
Yes, it can slow the economy and wreak temporary havoc on people who rely on government services. But these consequences are nothing alongside the fallout from defaulting on our debt.... That's why Boehner's inability to persuade conservatives to postpone their Obamacare demands until the debt-ceiling fight is in fact a hugely welcome development. It gives everyone a chance to sober up before we take on the substantially higher-stakes proposition of avoiding a debt default.
There is, however, the outside possibility of Boehner--with House Democrats looking over his shoulder and having his back--pursuing an inside straight. The play would entail an internally nasty end to his speakership, yet rumors of his voluntary retirement after 2014 would seem to lessen the odds of any personal fear. The play would be straightforward enough: fold a debt-ceiling lift into a rebudgeting package negotiated in the Senate and passed on a simple-majority reconciliation vote (I'm assuming, of course, that this is a permissble parliamentary maneuver; if so, it would relieve tea-party-paranoid Senate Republicans from any political ownership); Boehner would then slay Hastert and ram together Democrats and sane Republicans in the House.
What does he care that his epaulettes would be stripped? For John it's 36 holes a day on fat merlots. And his legacy would be that of the man who saved the GOP from ultimate extinction.
John Boehner most emphatically understands the suicidal destiny of a tea-partied GOP. As Scheiber notes:
Throughout his tenure as speaker, Boehner has had to divine a path between the apocalyptic impulses of his members and the political disaster that would attend their preferred apocalypse (shutdown, debt default, fiscal cliff dive). All the criticism of him notwithstanding, I think he’s done a pretty masterful job at this.
His final divination could be the most masterful yet.