Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2011, at 11:35 AM
Flanked by two stars of the freshman class, the Republican Study Committee, and his leadership team, John Boehner put the best possible spin on today's Cut, Cap, and Balance vote. There was really only one question: Why do this? It can't actually pass, can it?
"In 1997, the two-thirds necessary for a constitutional amendment passed the House," recited Boehner. "It got 66 votes in the Senate, one shy of passage. I just believe, in the current environment, anything's possible."
The press wasn't buying this. ABC's Jon Karl prefaced his question by asking "if, by some miracle, this doesn't pass the Senate..." and even some of the Republicans allowed themsevles to smile.
"I'm not going to give up hope on cut, cap, and balance," said Boehner, "but I do think it's responsible for us to look at what plan B would look like. And the leadership had a long conversation today about plan B."
That's a sizable "but." Until there's some reason to believe otherwise, today's vote looks like a way to give House Republicans a victory on their issue, with a plan that polls very well and has been endorsed by most of the presidential field. After the vote will come something less pleasant, but they can't consider that without some sort of moral victory first.