By his own account, Boehner was reprising a speech — and a line in the sand — that he delivered before the last, disastrous standoff. As I watched him defend his position in the House TV studio Thursday morning, I had an uncomfortable thought: Does Boehner want the economy to tank?

My instinct says that he does not, that his concern for Americans’ suffering trumps his party’s interests. And yet there’s no denying that more economic trouble would boost Republicans’ political interest. If Boehner goes to the brink and secures new spending cuts, he wins. If he fails, and his brinkmanship sets off a crisis, he still wins, because the resulting drop in confidence will slow the economy and injure the incumbent president…

Nobody doubts the need to address the debt, but Boehner’s moves won’t dispel worries about stability and predictability. He began his weekly news conference with dire warnings (“disastrous default . . . wet blanket over our economy”). Despite more ominous words, he took issue with the notion that his earlier speech on the debt limit was about “brinkmanship.”