It has been a smart political tactic for Democrats to blame Sen. Ted Cruz and/or the Tea Party for the government shutdown, but in reality it was entirely Speaker John Boehner’s fault. He is the one who really deserves the blame.

The shutdown ended last night because the speaker finally let a clean bill reach the floor where it easily passed with a bipartisan vote. There is no technical reason Boehner couldn’t have done this a week ago or a month ago. Everyone who is not delusional knew this was how the shutdown would eventually end.

While Cruz and his Tea Party caucus could put significant political and emotional pressure on Boehner, they had no actual power over the situation. Boehner always had the power and the votes to end this shutdown at any time. The only reason this shutdown happened is because Boehner used his power as speaker to block a vote for weeks. Everything else was a sideshow.

Boehner could have just chosen to ignore the Tea Party caucus. That may have been tough politically, but you don’t become a leader if you don’t like making tough choices. No one forced Boehner to become the speaker.

It is only because Boehner is a coward who cares more about this fancy title than the country that it took so long.

Photo by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons license