Let's look at the latest Boehnerian train wreck.
Last August - as we all remember - the House and the White House finally worked their way out of the blind alley that the Teatards had led the country during the debt ceiling debacle. They worked out a deal to put off further nastiness until after the 2012 election.
Now, the House GOP leadership is going to break that deal.
Speakers in the past exercised great control over their parties. "Czar" Reed - the powerful Gilded Age Speaker - did not get that name because he was descended from the Romanovs. Henry Clay rose to prominence as Speaker. So did James K. Polk. Recently, Tip O'Neill was the ultimate power broker in DC. Newt Gingrich - despite his penchant for delusions of grandeur and staff-banging - was quite powerful for a while there. Pelosi shepherded through an historic amount of legislation. And while Hastert was kind of an empty suit, he at least kept his party in line.
Some of Boehner's problems can be directly attributed to the rise of the Tea Party and the takeover of the GOP by the old John Birch Society. As a result, he is presiding over a caucus of civic illiterates and bomb throwing reactionaries. Henry Clay couldn't find a compromise with these yahoos.
But other parts are simply the fact that he's an incredibly weak leader. He has tolerated a level of insubordination and back-stabbing from Cantor that any previous Speaker would have dealt with using a lead pipe, duct tape and a tub of quick hardening cement. Cantor has simply been a rank opportunist, vis a vis the Teatards, but that doesn't excuse his incredible disloyalty to the Speaker.
This is the crack-up of the Reagan Coalition in real time.
But what it means for all of us is another potential government shutdown. If that happens, it could potentially derail the economic recovery, just as it's picking up steam. Then, we would have to wait and see if the electorate will step up and punish those people who tanked the economy again.
That's a bit of a frightening proposition.