John Boehner Is Playing to Win

Don't be fooled by House Speaker John Boehner's apparent weakness amid the nation's latest debt crisis brokered by the Tea Party, observes the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson. The Ohio Republican has a plan.

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Republican House Speaker John Boehner (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson writes an insightful piece about GOP House Speaker John Boehner. Although the Ohio politician may appear stuck between a rock and a hard place amid the nation's latest debt crisis, brokered by the Tea Party, he's not, Robinson observes. He's playing to win.

Don’t feel sorry for John Boehner. His party and his country may be losers in this absurd crisis, but he clearly intends to come out a winner ...

Leading the hard-core tea party caucus is in no sense an easy task. But it should at least begin with an honest dose of reality. Instead, Boehner has been feeding his difficult charges a steady diet of fantasy -- strengthening his position as speaker while bringing the nation to the brink.

Boehner’s original plan was to use the debt ceiling as leverage -- but for what? He’s not stupid or crazy, so it’s hard for me to believe he really thought he could get President Obama to forsake the Affordable Care Act, his administration’s biggest domestic achievement. More likely, he thought he could extort ... I mean, extract some major concession on entitlement spending.

But when his caucus insisted on making Obamacare the issue, Boehner went along. When Republicans demanded to rush into battle over the continuing resolution to fund the government, rather than be patient and orchestrate a debt-ceiling fight, Boehner went along. He looked like a general marching hither and yon according to his army’s whim.

From the outside, he appears pitifully weak. But Boehner may actually be stronger among conservatives -- and only a handful of House Republicans would dare call themselves moderate -- than at any time this year. His grip on the speakership may be tightening, not loosening.

Read Eugene Robinson's entire piece at the Washington Post.

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