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October 18th, 2013
05:45 PM ET

Carlson: Tea Party caucus like 'vampires'

It's quite an image, the way Politico tells it. The Speaker of the House taking a drag on a cigarette and explaining to the president off the record that he had been "overrun" by a faction of his own party, about 20 tea party House Republicans.

But is that really what happened? And with less than three months to go to the next fiscal fight, what can be expected from Speaker Boehner?

"The absolute best case you can make for John Boehner's leadership over the last few weeks ... is basically he gave the faction that overran him enough rope to hang themselves with, and let them run through the shutdown, and get it out of their system, and now maybe things are going to be a little saner," said Ross Douthat, op-ed columnist with The New York Times.

Bloomberg View columnist Margaret Carlson was less optimistic about the tea party conservatives' future tactics.

"They could be addicted, you know, this tiny caucus, addicted to blood, like vampires. They tasted and they need more," said Carlson.

"There's a need for it, whether it's to live, or just to go on in this kind of political atmosphere. We have no drama Obama, and then we have a caucus that poor John Boehner has to lead where this was not something they didn't want to happen, they were itching for it," said Carlson.

Boehner can't be overrun by 20 members if he has the support of the rest of the caucus, says Douthat.

"The argument isn't that, sure, in a few months there will still be 20 members who are happy to shut down the government. The question is for the other 100, will they be able to say, 'Okay, guys, we played it your way last time, but we're not going to do that again.'" said Douthat.

"Boehner told them all along we're not going to default, so everyone knew by October 17 he was going to fold, and go over to Steny Hoyer and do a vote with Democrats that was going disappoint the right flank," said A.B. Stoddard, editor with The Hill.

Boehner got 87 Republicans to vote on the bill to lift the debt ceiling and re-open the government Wednesday night.

"If he had done it just in the first couple hours of the shutdown, he would have had 30 Republicans. So he grew his vote and assured ... a huge number of people beyond the leadership table that he gave this a chance, and it was a loser," said Stoddard.

But, Douthat says, "None of this changes the fact that the last three weeks have been stupid and insane for the Republican party."

For more political analysis, check out the video above.

CNN's Edward Meagher contributed to this report.

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