People really care what I think about this, I know.
Nutters is the problem, along with the fact that everyone from commentators to voters assumes nutters can't really exercise power in a modern western political system. And the fact that leaders and voters are just these guys who mainly care about their own jobs.
1. Boehner wants to keep his job. He seriously cares more what the 60 Tea Partiers think than what the more numerous sane Republicans want, because they vote as a bloc, and he needs them (or thinks he needs them) to stay Speaker, which is at least as much of what he cares about, day-to-day, as the sensible resolution of the debt crisis.
2. Glib idiots say that politicians don't have power - it all resides with business giants. Well, politicians do what banks and so on much more than they should, especially in America because they need money for reelection, but the politicians make the decisions that really matter. It just doesn't look like that because they are so often following the agenda of people with money.
This is important when the nutters start getting in. Business people, used to controlling self-interested politicians, think they can control the nutters. They cannot. When the nutters get political muscle, they suddenly start throwing babies out with bathwater. This week, Obama and other non-nutters kow-towed to nutters. I don't think they should have done unless they have a very clear plan for demonising the nutters as nutters, which I don't see. Basically, I think it is very dangerous to assume you will ever have dialogue with nutters, or that they will ever be rational. You have to call a spade a spade.
3. But I can see why that's hard, for people who care about their jobs. Who wants to say: millions and millions of Americans have elected these guys, BUT THEY ARE NUTTERS! It would go down badly.
4. When you have politics becoming extreme like this, you start getting fundamentally irrational decisions.
Partial reading list, like you care: Open World by Phillippe Legrain, The Future of Democracy by Dareed Zakaria, Fascism by Robert O Paxton*, Planet Money and The New Yorker's Political Scene, Marbury.
* I am not saying the Tea Party is fascist. Don't jump on that idea. It's a book about structures of power.