I have to compliment the beautiful construction of Ezra Klein’s lede:
It always feels different in the room. In the room, everyone wants a deal. They want their name on legislation, in history books. They want to do the big things and make the hard choices. Then they leave the room and they learn their supporters don’t want the choices made if they’re going to be hard. They learn their colleagues know their names won’t be in the history books, and so they’re more concerned with making sure their names are on their desks in the next congress.
He’s talking about John Boehner, not Barack Obama. Yet, in the very next sentence, Klein acknowledges, “But you can’t get a deal unless you can get the votes. And what’s been clear for some time is Speaker John Boehner cannot get the votes.” He then cites as evidence Boehner’s letter to his caucus explaining why he cut off negotiations with the president. In that letter, the Speaker ignored the substance of the negotiations.
It’s as if the president walked away from the table and sent out a letter saying that Boehner wouldn’t agree to single-payer health care, and so the negotiations are over.
I’d add to that something that Susan Crabtree observed yesterday morning:
You know the dizzying array of debt talk drama has gone beyond the state of ridiculous when an announcement from Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) about striking a deal with President Obama is his idea of a joke.
Boehner began a conference meeting Friday morning by deadpanning that Republicans, the White House and Democrats had reached a deal, according to a lawmaker in the room. The response from his conference was nervous silence before Boehner eased the tension by letting them know he was only joking.
Some people seem to be in some doubt about whether the president seriously thought a deal was possible. To be sure, the White House is incredibly committed to trying to convince you that they were “this close” to making a deal. But they knew better.The White House was 100% convinced that the Republicans would raise the debt ceiling. They were also about 98% convinced that Boehner couldn’t deliver a deal acceptable to House Democrats, House senators, or even to themselves.
I don’t know what Boehner may have thought was possible or what he truly wanted. Alcoholics don’t think straight and are hard to decipher. But I don’t think he wanted to be in the history books as making a deal with the Kenyan, Muslim, socialist president. He certainly wanted to leave the impression with his caucus that he was only humoring the president.
The president, on the other hand, wants to leave the impression that he was “left at the altar” just when the deal was down to some rather petty and insignificant differences.
Let me be straight with you. Both sides are full of shit. Boehner and Cantor made it clear months ago that they wouldn’t sign off on an acceptable deal. They didn’t dupe the White House. They played a game together of appearing to negotiate.
Meanwhile, Senator McConnell prepared for a solution to the crisis within the Republican caucus. And that’s what this is. It’s not a true debt crisis. It’s a crisis in the Republican caucus. This whole dance has been for their benefit.