I get the feeling that, if he were still alive, Ronald Reagan would like to choke the hell out of someone in the Tea Party movement. Before you write that off as too outlandish, consider this: The Tea Party of 2010 America would consider Ronald Reagan to be insufficiently conservative to earn their support. Let's face it. Whatever your political orientation, if Ronald Reagan isn't conservative enough for you, you are an extremist. It's like saying that Franklin Roosevelt fella just wasn't left-wing enough. (Then again, Ronald Reagan raised taxes, ran a huge deficit, granted amnesty to illegal immigrants, pulled troops out of the Middle East, and was, at one point, the president of a union.) Of course, Reagan isn't the only Republican icon who'd have problems with the Tea Party. Barry Goldwater, father of the modern conservative movement, was socially liberal and actually read the Constitution a few times. He'd get booed off of Sean Hannity's Fox News set before he could even get a word out. And while they were happy to ride the Tea Party Angry Moron Express Bus to victory in 2010, the Republican establishment is finding out the hard way that these ideologues are not easy to negotiate with. For example, the country is quickly running up against the debt ceiling limit. The roughly eight hundred billion times this has happened before, Congress raised the limit via legislation (which was signed by the president, of course). This happened under Republican Congresses and under Democratic Congresses. This happened under Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents. It's a formality; a quick accounting boost to allow the Secretary of the Treasury to issue more securities so he can raise the cash to pay our bills. It's nothing, in the grand scheme of things. Until, of course, it is made into an issue by Tea Party folks. Again, as the issue began months ago, the Republican leadership was more than happy to play along with their anger, hoping to spin some political pressure into concessions on spending from the White House. The idea was to get a deal done that benefited Republicans and cut spending whatever the deal may be and then pass the debt ceiling increase. But something happened along the way to that bill. Namely, the GOP-controlled House, much more conservative than its Senate counterpart, decided it didn't want to play ball. Some Representatives insisted that the debt ceiling limit a non-partisan accounting maneuver was now fair game for a high-stakes political game of chicken. The new GOP logic became a coin flip: Heads the GOP wins, Tails we all lose (and blame Obama). So now, the GOP leadership finds itself in a bind. It is, by all accounts (other than Representative Eric Cantor, who needs conservative support to get the Vice Presidential nod) ready to make a deal. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a solution to take the matter out of Congress entirely. The "Gang of Six" has met and put together its own bipartisan solution. There are a handful of competing plans that are, to varying degrees, acceptable to both parties. Yet a deal cannot be reached because the Tea Party wants all or nothing...and they are willing to push the entire country into default in order to get it. Is that only my sentiment? Nope. Try Judd Gregg, former Republican senator from New Hampshire and a future Presidential candidate/Supreme Court nominee. "My gut tells me that we'll need a weekend of drama maybe a weekend of the government not paying its bills politicians need drama to make something happen. As soon as social security checks don't go out, the politics will change. I suspect it'll take artificial drama to get closure past the House." Yep. You read that right. A Republican who knows his stuff predicted it would take a fake crisis, along with grandparents not receiving their monthly Social Security living stipend (you know, the check they use to buy food and medicine) to get the Tea Party to pass a bill they're going to pass anyway. Maybe my colleague was right; politics *IS* theater for ugly people...on the inside and out.