The Clearest Sign Yet That Boehner's Bill Will Pass the House

They talk a big game, but in private, Republicans attack the one person who stands up for what they claim to believe



If you listen to Eric Cantor or any of the self-styled Tea Party Republicans pushing the country to the brink of default, they claim to be motivated by an unshakeable fealty to the principle that spending must be cut and must be cut right now -- damn the consequences. They appeared serious enough that John Boehner was forced to pull his debt-ceiling bill last night because it cut too little and did not have the votes to pass. 

But it seems that was all for show. This morning, at a closed-door session, most of the Republican caucus apparently exploded in anger at a staffer for the conservative Republican Study Committee, Paul Teller, who had been rallying support against some of the weaker-willed members who were preparing to support Boehner's plan. Here's how Politico described the scene:
House Republicans on Wednesday morning were calling for the firing of the Republican Study Committee top staffer after he was caught sending e-mails to conservative groups urging them to pressure GOP lawmakers to vote against a debt proposal from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Infuriated by the e-mails from Paul Teller, the executive director of the RSC, members started chanting "Fire him, fire him!" while Teller stood silently at a closed-door meetings of House Republicans.

"It was an unbelievable moment," said one GOP insider. "I've never seen anything like it."
This sounds like something out of Lord of the Flies -- only the anger was not unleashed on behalf of the conservative principle of holding the line on spending (a struggle that Teller's wing of the party has plainly been winning). Instead, it was directed at the one person who clearly did mean exactly what his party has been saying and was willing to fight for it. If Republican House members had any convictions at all, Teller would get a medal and a promotion. It speaks volumes about what Republicans really believe -- and confirms every Tea Party suspicion about Washington insiders selling them out -- that this is how they behave in private. There can't really be much doubt, at this point, that Boehner's bill sails through the House. 

UPDATE: A fairly prominent movement conservative just sent me this note:
This is infuriating. And you are absolutely correct -- this highlights everything that is wrong with the Republican Party. Instead of spending the morning in their conference meeting deciding how to avert the disaster of a AAA downgrade (which the Boehner plan will not do), they were dicking around like middle schoolers ganging up on the the least powerful person in the room.

If they are trying to spawn a third party they are doing a damn good job.

Eff these morons.

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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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