There is a reason that John Boehner offered a short-term extension of the debt ceiling yesterday as the two sides finally stopped calling each other names and began the minuet that should lead to a deal.
Yes, his party is getting clobbered in the polls, most recently in an NBC/Wall Street Journal survey that found 53 percent blaming the GOP for the government shutdown and 31 percent faulting President Obama. That, by the way, is a wider margin of blame than the Republicans received during the 1995-96 shutdown.
Personally, I’m tired of in this shutdown slog, and I think lots of Americans are weary as well.
Anonymous potshots. Bitter bloviation. Name-calling. Interviews that are little more than staged confrontations.
It often seems that media types are card-carrying members of a polarization society that produced the partial shutdown and countdown to default.
Hey, I get it. Ratings are up. People care about Washington again (though not in a good way). The stakes are high. Tempers are frayed. The noise level in the punditocracy seems cranked up to 11.
But the underlying reason that the GOP’s resolve is ebbing may be found in a New York Times story that is based on actual reporting. You know, the kind where a reporter calls people up and quotes what they say.
On the record. Names attached.
Now maybe you’re not a fan of the Times, think it leans left, and is rejoicing at the warfare that is dividing the Republican Party.
But that warfare is real, and there’s a new front that transcends the finger-pointing between the Boehner establishment types and Ted Cruz insurgent crowd.
Big business is growing increasingly disaffected from the wing of the GOP that launched the defund-ObamaCare-at-all-costs strategy that triggered the partial shutdown.
Here’s why that’s a big deal. The alliance between corporate America and the Republican Party has been built for decades on a foundation of smaller government, lower taxes and less regulation. It has kept GOP coffers flush with cash and provided a huge counterweight to Democratic labor support.
But now, some corporate chieftains believe the GOP hardliners have gone too far.
“Several trade association officials warned in interviews on Wednesday that they were considering helping wage primary campaigns against Republican lawmakers who had worked to engineer the political standoff in Washington,” the Times says.
For example, David French, top lobbyist for the National Retail Federation: “We are looking at ways to counter the rise of an ideological brand of conservatism that, for lack of a better word, is more anti-establishment than it has been in the past. We have come to the conclusion that sitting on the sidelines is not good enough.”
Joe Echevarria, the chief executive of Deloitte, said both parties have extreme elements, but “the extreme right has 90 seats in the House. Occupy Wall Street has no seats.”
Bruce Josten, the top lobbyist at Chamber of Commerce, says: “The name calling, blame gaming -- using slurs like jihadist, terrorist, cowards, that kind of language -- it does not get you to a deal.”
Now maybe this is a temporary rift that will be healed once the government reopens and the default threat is in the rear-view mirror. But the Times did its job by getting top executives to go on the record.
Look out, pundits: PolitiFact, the fact-checking website run by the Tampa Bay Times, has gotten a $625,000 grant to examine the veracity of the following usual suspects: Columnists, commentators, bloggers and talk show hosts and guests.
You’ve been warned.
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.