South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney had participated in a Republican coup attempt against House Speaker John Boehner before. As a new vote for speaker came up this week, many assumed he'd do it again.
They were wrong. Mulvaney voted for Boehner and took to Facebook to explain why.
"I learned two years ago that people lie about how they are going to vote," he wrote. "And you cannot go into this kind of fight with people you do not trust."
Mulvaney got many internet high-fives for his candor. A serious attempt to unseat Boehner could have been mounted months ago. Tuesday's rebellion was a symbolic gesture at best, and at worst counterproductive posturing for small-dollar donations and conservative street cred.
But the responses to Mulvaney's post received less attention. His commenters and constituents weren't having it.
"As your constituent, I am still extremely disappointed in your vote for [Boehner]," wrote one respondent, who went on to call the speaker a spineless RINO. "It looks like you did what is best for your career in politics not what is best for the country," argued another.
"I thought you had some balls, but apparently I was wrong," yet another weighed in. "Thanks for nothing, coward."
There were references to Neville Chamberlain, threats to never vote for Mulvaney again, and imputations of bad faith.
Online commenters aren't necessarily representative of anything, as every internet columnist regularly reminds himself. Who knows how many of them even live in Mulvaney's district.
Mulvaney isn't alone, however. Utah Republican Rep. Mia Love has taken considerable flack for her vote for Boehner.
There is a significant element of the conservative base that is tired of the excuses. They watched Republicans control the presidency and both houses of Congress for part of the Bush years.
When the GOP's unified control of the federal government was over, all conservatives had to show for it were a couple of Supreme Court justices — one of whom ended up voting to uphold ObamaCare — higher spending, and bigger deficits.
So their patience for Republican instructions to wait another election for conservative policy results that never seem to come has worn thin.
The problem is that many conservatives have responded not by demanding tangible results. They are satisfied with evidence of a fight.
Republican politicians have been all too willing to answer this call. Thus you get a defund ObamaCare initiative that relied on a government shutdown and was very unlikely to succeed — even when there were plausible alternatives.
You get a last-minute campaign for speaker instead of a carefully planned challenge, like Newt Gingrich's calculated rise. You wind up with the leading Boehner alternative, Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, having just a 56 percent rating from Heritage Action last year. That puts him to the left of Boehner.
You find that as a result of two unserious attempts to dislodge Boehner that conservatives are in danger of losing critical committee assignments, diminishing conservative influence rather than enhancing it.
You get Tea Party political action committees that raise money to fight the Republican establishment, and then spend very little of it on candidates in primary races.
You get Republican politicians with lots of red-meat rhetoric but a short resume of things they've actually done to make the federal government smaller, families stronger, or abortion rarer.
The well-deserved rap against the Republican establishment is that it wins money and votes by capitalizing on conservative concerns without resolving them.
How is this any different?
Conservatives are right not to trust everyone with an "R" after their name. Establishment Republicans have repeatedly let them down. But that doesn't mean the alternative is to reward people for stoking conservative anger with little to show for it beyond primal scream therapy.
In the end, this results in Republicans who are even more adept at saying the right things, while perhaps even less interested in doing the right things.
None of this is to say that every proponent of the defund strategy or the anti-Boehner vote is insincere or even necessarily ineffectual. If I were a member of Congress, I'd want Walter Jones to be speaker of the House. Justin Amash is a leading voice for limited government.
But I don't think it's a coincidence that there were enough votes against Boehner to make a critical mass of members seem ideologically pure, but nowhere near enough to elect a new speaker.
Nor do I think it's a coincidence that some of the most conservative members of Congress are starting to sit such exercises out.