Politics & Policy

John Boehner's Secret Signal That a Shutdown Is Imminent


Speaker of the House John Boehner on Capitol Hill

Photograph by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Speaker of the House John Boehner on Capitol Hill

Some people study the Talmud to unlock hidden meaning. Some people study the Zapruder film. Bloomberg Television’s Hans Nichols studies John Boehner. While staking out Boehner’s Capitol Hill townhouse during the last congressional crisis, Hans discovered that Boehner has a secret signal—or maybe a better analogy would be a poker player’s “tell”—that, if you know to look for it, is a reliable guide to what’s about to happen next. It all has to do with Boehner’s red baseball cap, as Hans explains in this TV clip from last December:

The upshot: If Boehner leaves his house wearing the red baseball cap, there will be no deal.

Right now, Washington is counting down the hours to what looks like an almost-inevitable shutdown—unless Republicans and the White House manage to strike a midnight deal. That’s not unheard of; most of the now-familiar budget crises over the past few years were avoided at the last minute.

But in a series of tweets this morning from a Capitol Hill diner where he was having breakfast, National Review’s crack political reporter, Robert Costa, delivered some vital intelligence that, if you subscribe to the Nichols Red Hat Theory, guarantees we are headed for a shutdown. Here’s what Costa reported:

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Green is senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek in Washington. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaGreen.

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