Ramesh quite rightly notes that “Republicans have to hold almost all of their members to prevail. If they lose 7 percent of the conference, they lose the vote. And more than 7 percent of the House Republicans want to vote against raising the debt limit, even in return for ’something conservative.’” His point is a good one, as to why it is hard for House leadership to get to 218. My response to that is that this means there is more than 7 percent of the conference that is living in la-la land, completely immune to practical politics and good political sense. The result of their intransigence is that they will get a debt-limit hike (very bad!) without a single conservative policy advance. They are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. (Sorry for the cliché.) Not only that, but by setting a precedent of clean hikes in the debt limit, they make it that much more difficult to fight such hikes in the future. So from both a policy and a strategic standpoint, they have harmed the conservative cause. This is one of the sorts of things to which I was referring when I wrote that “too many members are pursuing too many different agendas with too little sense of a team effort.”
Put another way, I do not take the position that the conservative hard-liners are acting wisely in their adamant refusal to work with the Boehner leadership team, nor do I assert that the Boehner leadership team is acting wisely. Instead, I think all sides are stumbling and bumbling, and that it appears that nobody up there can play this game.