House Speaker John Boehner House Speaker John Boehner (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

MSNBC daytime programming has been described by one cable-newsaholic as a “super-dead zone,” an assessment endorsed by the Erik Wemple Blog. One way to liven things up a bit is to pull in primetime MSNBC host Rachel Maddow to riff away on the issues of the day, especially if there’s a partisan fight afoot, as there is pretty much every day these days.

Today Andrea Mitchell, host of “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” chatted with Maddow on the congressional politics of Obamacare-cum-government funding. Both appeared to agree, surprise, that the Republicans are the problem, with Mitchell declaring, “John Boehner is the speaker of the House. Now, we all know that he’s looking over his shoulder and that [Eric] Cantor and others are all sort of waiting for him to fall, but at some point, the House speaker has to show some leadership.”

Maddow had a far more entertaining articulation: “John Boehner speaks like a leader . . . he talks like a man in charge. The problem is that what he says has no bearing on then what the Republicans in his caucus do. So he ends up just being one speaker among many — an uncapitalized speaker. He’s in the House, he’s speaking, therefore he’s a speaker. Nobody seems to be able to say with any certitude what the Republicans will do next. You look at all the shutdown confrontations that we’ve had in the past and it was Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill and it was Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich and this time it’s Barack Obama and whoever happens to be booked on Fox that night.” A trifecta there: History lesson plus an attack on the Republicans plus the cable-news competition.