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Government shutdown: Is John Boehner losing at tea party's game? (+video)

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(Read caption) Government Shutdown Enters Week 2, Some Return to Work
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House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio is coming face-to-face with the tactics that his party has introduced to contemporary American politics, and boy is it frustrating.

Tea party-fueled Republicans certainly didn't introduce the stonewall into American politics. Last time we checked, the United States Senate was founded on the idea of members in the minority making life unbearable for the majority. See: filibuster.

But the tea party revolution has brought a new wrinkle. Unable to get much of anything through the legislative process, the Republicans found a new lever: the debt ceiling. In 2011, they used the threat of refusing to raise it to win the sequester cuts – their one major victory of the tea party era.

Like football or poker, however, politics is essentially a game (despite Mr. Boehner's protestations to the contrary Friday), and when one team wins, the other is sure to change tactics to prevent it happening again. If defensive coordinators in the National Football League spend late nights in the office devising schemes to solve the read option, why would we not expect the same of strategists in the halls of Congress?

So the Republicans found in 2011 that the threat of global economic meltdown was sufficient to get the Democrats to blink. It shouldn't be so surprising that the Democrats now would be willing to turn the tables. If they didn't, after all, they would be conceding that the Republicans could bully them into concessions they find odious every time a debt-ceiling rise came due – or government funding ran out. (Which is essentially what has happened.)

How do you think that prospect has sat with Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada? No wonder he always looks like Mr. Crankypants. But now he's had enough.


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