Confession: I did not expect that this lame budget deal would be Boehner’s red line for tea-party criticism. But maybe it had to be that way. If he’d slammed them in October, when Cruz and Lee had galvanized the base against the bete noire of O-Care, it might have cost him his gavel. The stakes are lower now — he proved he was willing to shut down the government for a conservative cause, everyone understands that any budget deal with Democrats will vary only in shades of badness, and enough people have tuned out of the news in December that there won’t be any grand revolt against him. If he wants to throw down the gauntlet to groups like the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, now’s as good a time as any. And who knows? Maybe he legitimately feels it’s “ridiculous” for conservative PACs to shriek over a compromise when the stakes are as small as they are here. Take it from me: Even a RINO has his breaking point, my friends. Our candy-asses can stand kicking only so many times.
Is this smart, though?
The more antagonistic he gets with outfits like Heritage Action, the greater the risk that they’ll elevate this vote into a litmus test and the greater the pressure there’ll be on Republican fencesitters in the House to vote no. Then again, the vote’s only four or five hours away. This was the point of jamming the bill through this week — the quicker you move, the less time conservative PACs have to build opposition. Members want to go home for Christmas. They’ll risk some short-term grassroots wrath over a vote that people almost certainly won’t remember a year from now.
Here’s video from his presser. Watch for the big “Are you kidding me?!” freakout at 1:30. Terrifying exit question: