It isn’t easy to turn Washington around on a dime. If nothing else, give Republican House Speaker John Boehner marks for trying.

It wasn’t a week ago that Mr. Boehner was plodding through White House deliberations, grasping for GOP support, facing the growing likelihood his party would be saddled with either a flawed debt bargain or blame for causing a default. By last night, Mr. Boehner was on the precipice of passing the only workable debt plan in town and shifting responsibility for further debt fallout across the aisle. Whatever the final result, Mr. Boehner’s week-long struggle to pull his party behind him is worthy of some study.

That struggle began with the Ohio Republican’s willingness to pack in a losing strategy. He’d invested valuable time and capital in his White House talks, and the pressure from the president, the press and the bipartisan crowd to grab a “big deal” was enormous. He looked very near to succumbing to the seductive pull of a grand Washington “compromise.”

Instead, he realized that this White House had no intention of agreeing to serious debt reduction and that it cared primarily about tax hikes. His decision to call off the talks earned him some catcalls, but it reset the political dynamic.

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