"I didn't sign up for going mano-a-mano with the President of the United States."
-- House Speaker John Boehner
In a town otherwise dominated politically by Democrats, just what did Republican John Boehner think he was signing on for when he ousted Nancy Pelosi as House speaker?
Indeed, Boehner seemed destined from the day he took the speaker's gavel to, eventually, have to take on the president — especially with that cadre of tea party conservative freshmen nipping at his heels.
If Boehner didn't think he'd have to go "mano-a-mano" with President Obama, he's probably the only one not to have entertained that particular notion.
What's most striking about the current crisis is how history really is just repeating itself.
We've been here before, and we're partying like it's 1995 all over again.
That's the last time congressional Republicans played a political game of federal budget chicken with a Democratic president.
Back then, the stakes were a government shutdown. As disastrous as a shutdown then seemed, a simple shutdown now seems quaint compared to the real possibility of a full, first-ever-in-history, default by the federal government.
After the shutdowns of the mid 1990s were over, the federal parks re-opened, government workers were paid retroactively for the time they were furloughed, and everyone went on the merry ways.
Default, however, will be with us for much longer. The federal government's so-far sterling credit rating will be downgraded, interest rates will go up for everyone, hundreds of thousands of Americans could lose their jobs, and the nation could go back into recession.
Boehner, by his own admission, is one of the Republicans who insisted on tying a routine increase in the federal debt ceiling to some larger budget deal in the first place.