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House Speaker John Boehner holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 21, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Boehner wants credit for letting Democrats do the hard work of governing.
This is an incredible statistic about Tuesday's vote in the U.S. House to raise the debt limit through March 2015:
The 28 members of the Republican majority who voted for the bill — a meager 12 percent — was the lowest percentage for a majority on passage since the House began publishing electronic data on votes in 1991.
The clear implication, says Carl Hulse of The New York Times, is that the vast majority of House Republicans voted against a measure that they actually wanted to pass: The "vote no, hope yes" phenomenon. This pattern—public opposition coupled with private support—is utterly dysfunctional, says Hulse, and the amazing thing is that at least one House Republican agreed with him:
“The incentives are not aligned,” one House Republican acknowledged in conceding that the debt limit vote was not exactly what the framers intended when they drew up the plans for how the House would operate.
On issue after issue, what we're seeing is a House of Representatives in which the majority party is utterly incapable of governing, whether it's immigration reform or the government shutdown or turning to Democrats to save the country from default. And it's pretty clear, not just from that quote above, that Republicans—at least the somewhat smart ones—understand the dysfunction.

Take, for example, what happened when House Speaker John Boehner told his caucus that he would allow Democrats to supply the votes to avoid default:

But they didn’t speak up or clap. Boehner just stood there for a moment after he finished, eyed the room, and walked toward his seat. On his way there, Boehner shook his head, then turned to the nearly mute crowd and wondered aloud why he wasn’t getting applause. “I’m getting this monkey off your back and you’re not going to even clap?” Boehner asked, scowling playfully at some tea-party favorites.

In a second, attendees snapped back and dozens of them applauded, but there were no cheers. “There was, how do I say it, a polite golf clap,” one House GOP veteran said. “But that, thank God, was the end.”

Think about that: Boehner not only announced to his caucus that Democrats would be doing their job for them, but he saw it as an accomplishment—and wanted to get some credit for it. In a sense, it's hard to argue that Boehner did the right thing by sidelining his party and letting Democrats prevent an economic catastrophe. But the real lesson shouldn't be that Boehner deserves credit for figuring out how to govern despite having a caucus divided between crazies and hypocrites—the real lesson should be that if Boehner always needs Democrats to bail him out, then next November, voters should make his job easier by putting Democrats back in the majority.

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