Tonight we are witnessing in real time the inevitable consequence of 30 months of playing with rhetorical fire—the House is burning down under the heat of its own radicalism. Speaker Boehner, who just days ago was accusing President Obama of failed leadership and “jello-like” negotiations, is facing the unflinching reality of his own decision to court and empower the most extreme group of congressman since the 1960s. After assuring the public that it was President Obama’s fault that there was a failure to achieve a compromise, Boehner has failed to get the votes for his very own plan to raise the debt ceiling with no tax increases, only budget cuts.
It is too early to declare his efforts dead, but it is not too early to face the music—there is nothing Obama could have done to clinch a deal with House Republicans. This is a tiger that no one can ride, unleashed on the body politic by cynical, manipulative operatives hungry for power and willing to say anything about the president and his proposals in order to defeat him. But now we see that those who they nurtured into power really believe the things they have been saying—about the president, about the federal reserve, about the role of government and about the evils of compromise.
This should serve as a wake up call to everyone who believed that the extreme rhetoric of the House Republicans and the conservative movement was just “politics as usual.” All who winked and nodded as the most extreme elements in our politics tore into the president now must face the fact that they have the responsibility to bring this country back from the brink. They have to face the obvious conclusion—only a balanced approach that can garner Democratic support will rescue us from default and true crisis. They have to deal with the President with respect and partnership and genuine compromise. And they have to turn away from the rhetoric and the political faction that rhetoric has created and join with Democrats to pass a package like the one the president was offering last week.