No matter what happens to House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA time for war, a time for peace — and always a time to defend America Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Soleimani killing deepens distrust between Trump, Democrats MORE's (R-Ohio) effort to pass his bill through the House, the fight to bring conservatives on board for a debt-ceiling increase will be remembered as the moment when the top blew right off the boiling hot kettle of long-simmering tension between Tea Party purists and the old guard. This week the fight broke out into the spotlight from behind closed doors and Republicans began to eat their own again with gusto. It's angry and on the record. And BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA time for war, a time for peace — and always a time to defend America Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Soleimani killing deepens distrust between Trump, Democrats MORE's warning to holdouts in the House GOP to "get your ass in line" or House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorThe Democrats' strategy conundrum: a 'movement' or a coalition? The biggest political upsets of the decade Bottom Line MORE's (R-Va.) order to "quit whining," earlier this week weren't even the beginning of it.
The most heartbreaking example is the breakup of a great friendship like the one McCain and Sharron Angle enjoyed until recently. McCain supported her failed run for the U.S. Senate against Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Trumpification of the federal courts Trump to rally evangelicals after critical Christianity Today editorial Left presses 2020 Democrats to retake the courts from Trump MORE (D-Nev.) last fall when she proved an even weaker candidate than Reid and propelled him to a strong victory with a larger vote margin than he had won with in many cycles. McCain campaigned for Angle, predicting "the world is watching," as the crowds cheered on the former GOP presidential nominee and his new buddy. "Sharron brings hope and Sharron brings action," said McCain.
But now McCain is concerned with the kind of action the conservative — mostly but not all Tea Party — hardliners in the House are responsible for as they undermine their leadership and block a debt-increase bill with spending cuts and no taxes. He called their attempts to attach a balanced-budget amendment to the package "foolish" and "bizarro." He also read the following from a scathing Wall Street Journal editorial on the Senate floor: "what none of these critics have is an alternative strategy for achieving anything nearly as fiscally or politically beneficial as Mr. Boehner's plan. The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against ... Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama marks MLK Day by honoring King for his 'poetic brilliance' and 'moral clarity' Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina National Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo MORE. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the Tea Party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor. This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees. The reality is that the debt limit will be raised one way or another, and the only issue now is with how much fiscal reform and what political fallout."

Angle was deeply disappointed in her friend McCain — the former maverick — who had transformed for good into a true Tea Partier after he contorted himself and all his policy positions to beat back a primary challenge from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth last summer. What a shock, McCain has gone maverick again. "Ironically, this man campaigned for Tea Party support in his last reelection, but now throws Christine O'Donnell and I into the harbor with Sarah Palin. As in the fable, it is the hobbits who are the heroes and save the land. This Lord of the TARP actually ought to read the end of the story and join forces with the Tea Party, not criticize it," wrote Angle.
Tea Party favorite freshman Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate MORE (R-Ky.) also fought back, saying he would rather be a hobbit than a troll. Does it get better than this? Don't forget how much time the media spent on the House GOP leaders' decision to show a clip from "The Town" in an effort to psych up members to act like hardened criminals performing illegal acts. Our political leaders might not be able to stop us from an historic default that would wreck our economy, but they sure know their books and movies!
Democrats are circulating the following from former Republican Rep. Jim Ramstad of Minnesota, who wrote an op-ed calling Republicans blocking Boehner's bill "flat-earthers."

"Flat-earthers in Congress are playing with fire on the debt-ceiling controversy, and the American people are about to get burned. Their denial of economic reality is both outrageous and dangerous. The United States simply cannot default on its obligations and risk a financial system disaster. I plead with my former colleagues to wake up before they bring our country to its knees and do irreparable harm. It's time for reasonable heads to prevail and for Congress members to reach a bipartisan, pragmatic compromise before it's too late," Ramstad wrote.

Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, also declared any vote against the Boehner plan was a vote in favor of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. He promptly received a lashing from Erick Erickson of Redstate, who wrote: "Kristol wants to cut a deal because ... well ... because he likes sucking up to Republican leaders first of all. But also because in his cowardly abandon he cannot perceive how holding the line can force the Democrats to produce a better deal."
And it goes without saying that Palin didn't want to get left out of this either. Her not-so-veiled threat on Facebook telling them "good luck" and letting them know that "P.S. Everyone I talk to still believes in contested primaries" was her warning to hardliners to block the Boehner bill. It's newsworthy all right, because Palin wants to stay relevant. Whether any lawmakers were listening is another story.
Once we get past the standoff, with default averted and life back to normal, let's see if they all hold hands again.

CAN PAWLENTY STILL SURGE IN IOWA AND SCORE A STRAW POLL VICTORY ON 8/13? Ask A.B. returns Tuesday, Aug. 2. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to Thank you.