No, Boehner isn't the best Speaker ever and the House played their game. But to suggest they and only they were players is to wax silly. Only a person who just flew in from Neptune would be surprised by any of this back-and-forth because divided Congresses always fight like children, and we've got a fairly juvenile leader leading the playroom. After the deal passes they'll all engage in a circular finger-pointing contest, with the media off to the side all pointing at Boehner with the exception of "Faux News", who will be pointing to Obama or at Bo the Dog's possible AF One trip back from Hawaii for prop duty. In two months they'll all play musical chairs again without anyone leaving their chairs.
The general consensus seems to be that Boehner just committed the biggest boo-boo in political history. At least at the WaPo:
The agreement represented a remarkable capitulation on the part of House Republicans, who had two days earlier rejected such a deal with Democrats as the kind of half-measure that their new majority was elected to thwart. And it amounts to a Christmas gift for President Obama, who attempted to paint his Republican opponents as willing to raise taxes for millions of Americans. Such an image could have cost the party politically just as it is gearing up to try to take back the White House and Senate in 2012.That's the brutal truth, whether it's the truth or not. The WaPo bashes Boehner by admitting that Obama was prepared to go to the mat to save a 2 month tax cut when in reality he's spent his entire presidency trying to raise taxes on a certain class of people he thinks have made enough money already, who will NOT be getting an increase to pay for this tax cut. It was so crucial he was willing to use democrat operatives disguised as people, pizza, and even his own dog to get it done! What did the American people win again?
The Dems now get two months to smear the Keystone pipeline so Obama can deny it, or alternatively Obama gets two more months of campaign contributions from both evil capitalists and nutty environmental wackos trying to affect policy before he approves it, or maybe uses a magic trick to delay it again. Meanwhile the payroll tax cut can be framed not as gutting Social Security, but as the only moral way to fund it, which will require more taxes from rich people who've made enough already.
Why McConnell felt the need to take Reid's deal then embarrass Boehner is the real mystery here. Scuttlebutt says he was afraid of losing seats or somesuch, but it sounds more like a pissing match or a backdoor way to bring down the hated Tea Party. Or maybe it just all came down to a bunch of congressfolks and a president who were willing to go to any length to save their 3 week vacation.