Honestly, I don't really know how to follow this whole fiscal cliff thing. It's big and complicated and I can't get a straight answer from anywhere about whether it's really likely to happen or if this is just chest-thumping. But Slate's coverage, if it's accurate, cleared at least one thing up for me.
Our government is run by fracking children.
[...I]f there is ever going to be a deal, it will only happen if Boehner looks like he has dragged the president somewhere President Obama doesn’t want to go. Each time the speaker makes a public display, as he did today, it shows that he is fighting the good fight and holding the president's feet to the fire. Now, if there is a deal, he can say, "I beat on the president about cutting spending, and he gave in." Members are going to look closely at the math above the theatrics, but if Boehner were unable to point to moments of peril and stalemate, his rank-and-file will just assume he got rolled. Therefore, this statement that seems to be about frustration—which would suggest we're farther than ever from a deal—can actually be seen as a necessary prerequisite for a deal.
The one trick for Boehner is that he can’t appear to be too effective. He doesn’t want to stir his members into such a fevered pitch that they don’t accept any deal. Perhaps that’s why Boehner described his meeting with the president this weekend as “nice” and “cordial.”
What the hell? Why is it okay for our government to balance our economic stability on the possibility of bruised egos? It's like we elected a bunch of eight year olds, and a few of them have started to notice that they can't keep throwing tantrums without blowing everything up -- but now the atmosphere of the political dialogue is "I want my toys and my candy and I want to get to stay up late and I don't want to clean my room."