I recently talked to an old Washington hand, a veteran of Capitol Hill and several White Houses, and asked what was the most intriguing development in the new Congress. He said it was the recent House vote against the F-35 jet engine.
His reasoning was that for new House members to scuttle an appropriation that brought money and jobs to their Speaker’s district was, like the movement of the needle on a siesmometer, a small thing that signalled a much larger disturbance in the underlying ground. Many of the Tea Party House members haven’t been in politics for even a year and already they are flipping off the most powerful establishment Republican in the country.
Boehner is a smart and experienced politician, so he knows that a federal government shutdown could backfire just as it did for Newt Gingrich. But if he didn’t know it already the F-35 vote shows that he can’t control many of his own troops; he can’t even be sure they won’t frag him.