Consider the fiscal-cliff negotiations. Boehner's difficulty in reaching an agreement with President Obama was all but an admission that he wasn't really in charge. He had to check with tea-party darlings such as Republican House leader Eric Cantor before making any commitment.
Fortunately, Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Peter King (R., N.Y.), and others worked out a compromise of sorts to free the Sandy aid. About $9 billion of the funds was scheduled to be voted on Friday to replenish a flood-insurance program due to run out of money next week.
The speaker has agreed to two separate votes later this month for another $51 billion in aid.
There are, however, no assurances that these votes won't become embroiled in the next hot-button topic facing Congress - raising the federal debt ceiling.
Piecing out the disaster funds makes no fiscal sense and exposes the allocations to the disastrous partisan politics of Washington. Rebuilding storm-damaged properties requires planning and engineering studies. No contractor in his right mind is going to commit to a project without a reasonable funding guarantee.
It's true that the Sandy aid package initially included money for unrelated projects, including roofs for the Smithsonian and restoration funds for fish hatcheries, including one in Alaska.
But LoBiondo says he has stripped such projects from the request, and maybe that will be enough to move these bills through Congress. It's hard, though, to say what will happen in a political body whose members are resorting to self-indulgent, obscenity-laced temper tantrums.
Christie received high marks for dropping politics to work with Obama to help storm victims. Hours before Sandy hit, he reached out to children, saying "The adults are taking care of business. Don't be scared."
It's obvious now that his reference to adults doesn't include the House Republican caucus.