I have criticized John Boehner repeatedly. I have also recognized the impossibility of his task in negotiating with a President Obama who is more interested in inflicting pain on republicans and republican voters than protecting the economy or putting the country on a stable financial footing. In retrospect, it is clear that the earlier deal to create the fiscal cliff was a terrible idea, at least for republicans. They dealt the cards though, so they have to play the hand. It is easy to say that last night's failure of the Plan B tax vote was a huge disaster for Boehner, one that may end his Speakership. Democrats, smelling blood, were gleeful. To a person, they believe that Obama now holds the few remaining cards he didn't have before. Republicans' options range from abject surrender to humiliating defeat. I wonder. Boehner was faced with a frustrating yet familiar negotiating problem, an opponent who will not negotiate. Obama's position had three legs. One, insistence on tax increase for predominantly republican voters. Two, minimal reforms in discretionary spending. Three, insistence that republicans take responsibility for unpopular yet necessary reforms to the big entitlement programs. In essence, he wanted the republicans to attack their own base, while he sat back and kept saying they needed to give up more. I thought Boehner's Plan B was not a terrible idea. Raise taxes on the above $1mill a year crowd. A lot of them are corporate weasels who don't deserve the money anyway. Tellingly, Obama opposed it. Not enough pain on the rank and file republican voters I guess. Then the stunner. Plan B was pulled because of lack of support in the republican caucus. But was there really a lack of support? How hard did the Leadership try to armtwist recalcitrant members? The meeting was adjourned after 15 minutes. I'd say they didn't try very hard at all. But why? Two powerful negotiating tactics are so-called good cop/bad cop and lack of authority. Everyone knows the good cop/bad cop drill. Deal with me or my unreasonable, irrational partner, your choice. Limited authority is another win-win approach. You never actually reject things out of hand, It's just that you lack the negotiating authority to go there. Boehner, either through luck or skill, now can deploy both these tactics. Deal with him or the Tea party zealots. Your choice, Mr. President. Clearly, he lacks the votes to even get his Plan B passed. Forget anything more aggressive. Obama could just ignore it all, but there are items in the fiscal cliff that he desperately needs. He'll have to decide if tax cuts aimed at only republican voters are among them.