McCain: There'll be no more government shutdowns -- I guarantee it

I wasn’t aware that Maverick, whose pronouncements now carry roughly the same weight with tea partiers as Obama’s, is in a position to be guaranteeing anything about how House Republicans might behave. In fact, here’s what one GOP congressman said last night after the final conference huddle:

As Republican lawmakers left the closed meeting Wednesday, some were already thinking of the next fight.

“I’ll vote against it,” said Representative John C. Fleming, Republican of Louisiana, referring to the Senate plan. “But that will get us into Round 2. See, we’re going to start this all over again.”

If by “guarantee” McCain means that Boehner would rather chew glass than go through this again, fair enough. But as we’ve just seen, Boehner doesn’t always set the menu within his caucus. Per Tim Huelskamp, there may be another bowl of tasty glass for him on the way:

Others view the calendar as a way to embolden conservatives before those elections. “I hope we eventually have a battle and I hope it’s directed long-term about what the answers are. By then we will have a lot of primary challenges already filed,” said Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp. “There are some folks that might change their opinion if they have a primary challenger. A number of those states will have already been through those primary deadlines that will encourage some folks to have some more backbone.”

There’s lots of reasons most House Republicans would want to avoid another shutdown — bad polling, caucus rifts, diminishing credibility when the leadership can’t win anything major — but that was true of this shutdown too and none of those factors stopped it. The point of the shutdown, I always thought, wasn’t to exert real leverage at the bargaining table with Obama, who was never, ever going to cave on O-Care, but to show grassroots tea partiers that House Republicans weren’t afraid to cross this line in the name of fighting the good fight. It was a litmus test for Boehner and the leadership, essentially, to show that they hated ObamaCare enough that they’d close down the government for awhile to protest it. They did, which is why House conservatives aren’t talking about ousting him even though the negotiations were a total debacle for the GOP. Point being, you never know when a new litmus test might arise — and if, per Huelskamp, one arises (or is engineered) in the midst of a hot primary campaign, Boehner might decide that chewing glass is the least painful option available to him.

I can imagine cases too where a shutdown would be fully justified on the merits, whatever the polling might look like. Imagine if Obama, flush from his big “win,” announces around New Year’s that he needs another $300 million from Congress to make run as smoothly as it should. The new government funding bill expires on January 15th so we’d be looking at another shutdown to start 2014 if the two sides can’t agree. Should the House pony up that $300 million and double down on Obama’s and HHS’s gross incompetence in building the exchanges? Of course not. They had three years to plan for this; at the barest minimum, any new funding would have to be conditioned upon delaying the law for a year. Obama would resist that, of course, on the assumption that he could and would win a new battle with Republicans over appropriating the money in the court of public opinion. And so we’d end up with Shutdown II. So much for Maverick’s “guarantee”?

Exit question: Am I hallucinating or does John “Wacko Birds” McCain, who accused a Republican colleague in the House of being a moron on national television less than 24 hours ago, actually warn the GOP at the end here to observe the 11th Commandment?