We'll make a tentative assessment: President Obama's famous prediction that the Republican "fever may break" after his reelection got the trigger wrong but the eventuality right. The fever — finally — has broken, and it's possible that cooler heads could prevail all the way until Republican primaries in a few months.
Why do we feel confident in making this assessment? There are few more pristine embodiments of that fever — the Tea Party-led push for dogmatic opposition to anything that even seemed like higher spending — than Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann is one of several of the most fervently conservative members of the House. And here's what she had to say about her party's efforts to figure out a concession to demand from President Obama exchange for lifting the debt ceiling: "You’ve got to know when to hold them and when to fold them. My assessment is that most of us don’t think it’s the time to fight."
This from the congresswoman who declared that October's shutdown was "exactly what we wanted, and we got it." Bachmann was joined in her willingness to allow a clean increase to the debt ceiling (a move that will allow the government to borrow money to pay debt it has already incurred) by other conservative members of the House Republican caucus. Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador has repeatedly said to simply raise the debt ceiling and move on; earlier this week he said, "We should bring up a clean debt ceiling, let the Democrats pass it, and just move on. Our constituents are fed up with the political theater." And conservative Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who helped lead an insurgency against Speaker John Boehner's leadership last year: "It’s going to end up being clean anyway. I don’t see anything they can put on the table that I would support as some sort of tradeoff."