Even down to the framing of the inside baseball, John Boehner and the Tea Party have the media fooled. Even on MSNBC, all I've been hearing all night tonight is that John Boehner is in this terribly challenging bargaining position trying to balance the art of making a deal and assuaging Tea Party radicals. The reality is the diametric opposite, and it blows my mind that nobody has realized this.
E.J. Dionne, in a column last week, touched upon the Tea Party's ability to render fear in the hearts of the other side because they want us to think they're crazy enough to sabotage the government in order to get their way. He's right....only it's not just a matter of pretense. The Tea Partiers are that crazy, and Boehner is able to play the role as their emissary effortlessly for one simple reason....they know that, no matter what, Obama and Reid will fold.
Folding is what Democrats do. There is no issue sacred enough to them, particularly in the context of the federal budget, that they will fight for their alleged principles or the constituent groups who voted for them and they promised to fight for. Out of fear of consequences in the next election or fear that the other side will blow the place up to get their way, the Democrats will ALWAYS end up meeting Republicans at their 99-yard line....and Boehner knows it. That's why he has the EASIEST job in Washington right now, not the hardest. All he has to do is keep saying no, knowing he's effectively guaranteed to get his way given the bargaining weakness of his would-be opponents.
That's why once Obama and Reid agree to give Boehner his $60 billion in cuts tomorrow, Boehner and the Tea Party will likely respond by demanding $100 billion in cuts at their next press conference. And on Friday when Obama and Reid accept those terms, Boehner will change the figure to $150 billion. He knows whatever he asks for he gets with this crowd of negotiators. And he's right.