The current state of play over House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) attempts to get a continuing resolution through the House to avert a government shutdown -- an effort that has not only exacerbated tensions within the House GOP caucus, but has also spilled over into a wider war between House and Senate Republicans -- is emblematic of the larger problem looming ahead of the coming fiscal crises. As Greg Sargent notes, a "basic fact about this fall's fiscal fights" is that "[f]ar and away the dominant factor shaping how they play out will be the divisions among Republicans." It's not just a political story, it's the political story.
A clearly frustrated Boehner seemed to realize that he leads a conference where no plan is quite good enough. There are frequently about 30 Republicans who oppose leadership’s carefully crafted plans — just enough to mess things up. A reporter asked him whether he has a new idea to resolve the government funding fight. He laughed and said, “No.”
“Do you have an idea?” he asked the reporters. “They’ll just shoot it down anyway.”
None of this bodes well for the future. Jonathan Chait reckons that the chances that a government shutdown will occur over this are once again on the rise, along with the possibility that there will be a concomitant debt ceiling debacle later.
But nothing distills this mess down to its essence quite like this anecdote, courtesy of Buzzfeed's Kate Nocera:
Frustrated too are Capitol Hill aides, who have begun to view budgetary showdowns like the political version of Groundhog Day. When asked their thoughts about a continuing resolution and the possibility of a government shutdown, a GOP aide simply sent over a YouTube clip from the movie Zoolander, where Will Ferrell’s character declares he feels like he is taking crazy pills.
(In terms of the culture of political media, by the way, this is an extraordinary development. We are now just a few steps away from stories that include lines like, "Reached for comment, a senior administration official would not provide specifics, but agreed to send along this .gifset from 'Mean Girls' on background.")
As Sherman and Bresnahan report: "[I]n private discussions, GOP leadership aides acknowledge they have absolutely no idea how they’ll lift the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling." So, if no one manages to open up the Center For Legislators Who Can't Govern Good And Want To Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too, we are all probably doomed.
[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]
Also on HuffPost:
George Clooney & President Obama
Actor George Clooney leaves after he spoke to the media March 15, 2012 at the White House in Washington, DC. Clooney had meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the current situations in Darfur, Sudan. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
President Obama & Tyler Perry
Actor and director Tyler Perry hugs US President Barack Obama during a campaign event at Tyler Perry Studios March 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. President Obama is spending the day traveling to Chicago, Illinois and Atlanta, Georgia to attend private and public campaign events. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
The Obamas & Oprah Winfrey
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama chat with talk show host Oprah Winfrey during a taping of the Oprah Winfrey show April 27, 2011 at Harpo Studios in Chicago. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Obama & Magic Johnson
In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, President Barack Obama is greeted on the court by NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Earvin 'Magic' Johnson and Michigan State University assistant coach Mike Garland. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)
Willow Smith Performs At The White House
Willow Smith, daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smitt, performs during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on April 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images)
Antonio Banderas & President Obama
Antonio Banderas and his wife Melanie Griffith hosted a fundraising event for President Obama in October 2011. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Tom Hanks Narrates Pro-Obama Film
This 17-minute film released by President Obama's re-election campaign was directed by Davis Guggenheim (director of "An Inconvenient Truth") and narrated by actor Tom Hanks.
Gov. Mitt Romney & Jeff Foxworthy
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney makes a campaign appearance with comedian Jeff Foxworthy at the Whistle Stop cafe March 12, 2012 in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Gov. Mitt Romney & Kid Rock
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets musician Kid Rock during a campaign rally at the Royal Oak Theatre on February 27, 2012 in Royal Oak, Michigan. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
David Mustaine & Rick Santorum
David Mustaine of Megadeth expressed support for Rick Santorum in a February <a href="http://www.musicradar.com/news/live/interview-megadeths-dave-mustaine-talks-guitar-politics-and-todays-music-529703" target="_hplink">interview with Music Radar</a>.
Kelly Clarkson & Ron Paul
Kelly Clarkson tweeted about her love for Ron Paul in late 2011, but dialed it back slightly after a backlash accused her of supporting Paul's racist and homophobic publications, <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/03/09/kelly-clarkson-never-endorsed-ron-paul/" target="_hplink">reports Fox News</a>. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Snoop Dogg & Ron Paul
In December 2011, Snoop Dogg posted a picture of Ron Paul on his Facebook page with the caption "Smoke Weed Every Day," <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/us-snoopdogg-ronpaul-idUSTRE80U04220120131" target="_hplink">reports Reuters</a>. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive)
Oliver Stone & Ron Paul
In January, Oliver Stone told <a href="http://www.rockcellarmagazine.com/2012/01/12/director-oliver-stone-on-history-and-america-jim-morrison-ron-paul/" target="_hplink">Rock Cellar Magazine</a> that he would vote for Ron Paul over Barack Obama if Paul was named the GOP nominee because "he's the only one of anybody who's saying anything intelligent about the future of the world." (Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images)