After all, if Cantor, McConnell, and Boehner are able to say "national default unless we have an all-cuts deficit reduction package," then why not also say "national default unless we bomb North Korea" or "national default unless we reinstate Don't Ask Don’t Tell?" Over the longer term, I don't think serious people of any ideological persuasion seriously think it'll be a good thing for America to turn all public policy debates into a series of hostage scenarios with debt default as the price. This is in part a testament to why it was a mistake of Obama to get sucked into this negotiation in the first place, regardless of what you think his real motives were. But it's also reflective of the truly breathtaking cynicism with which McConnell has been leading the GOP ever since the 2008 election. The priority, at every turn, has in his own words been to turn Obama into a one-term president by using powers of obstruction. But the American constitutional system can't function if both parties play [by] these rules. [emphasis mine]Whatever "serious people" might "seriously think" about these matters, it is clear that the Republicans are dedicated to seeing how far they can bully and contort public policy in their favor. Given the weakness of the president and his party -- if not their complicity -- there is no good reason to think we are nearing the end of a process whereby sane public policy, and the human beings affected by it, serve as hostages to the far right.