This Ross Douthat piece is very good indeed on describing why the Republican shutdown plan was so crazy to begin with, and why indeed no method to Republican plans can be found. I would excerpt favorite parts, but really, one ought to read the whole thing.
While I am citing Douthat, here is another piece of his from which I will excerpt:
. . . I suppose one possible alternative would be for Republicans to step outside the murder-suicide context of shutdowns and debt ceiling brinksmanship, set aside the fantasy of winning major policy victories in divided government, cut a few small deals if possible and otherwise just oppose the president’s agenda on issues like immigration and climate change, and try to win the next two elections on the merits. This is how American political parties normally seek to enact their preferred policies, and the fact that the Republicans and Democrats are currently further apart ideologically than our political parties have traditionally been only strengthens the case for this old-fashioned way of doing things. Want to repeal/replace Obamacare, reform entitlements, do tax reform without tax increases? Go win a presidential election.
Well said. But of course, these days, to suggest that Republicans ought to moderate political positions in order to be able to win an election or two is to be a RiNO, utterly devoid of principles.
I do not want to make too much of the claim that the GOP's political position has become untenable. There are limits to that theory, which Nate Silver discusses in a very informative piece (isn't it interesting that Silver suddenly has fans on the right? A year ago, Silver was under attack from the right for having had the temerity to suggest that Barack Obama would win the presidential election). But as I have (plaintively) mentioned before, wouldn't it have been great if the GOP had avoided shooting itself in both feet, and instead, we had the opportunity to focus on just how incredibly embarrassed the Obama administration and just about every supporter of Obamacare must feel regarding the utterly disastrous rollout of the new health care program? Wouldn't it be better for Republican politicians if they could make fun of the Obama administration's admission that we should expect "months" of glitches with the Obamacare registration program? Wouldn't it be better for Republican politicians to be able to focus on the fact that Obamacare is already giving consumers bad economic choices, or the fact that a former member of the Obama administration is criticizing the president's handling of the shutdown, or the fact that people like Megan McArdle are now pushing for Obamacare to have a drop-dead date for implementation?
Well yes, all of this would be better. But instead, what we have is a war between the establishment and the Tea Party (and yes, because of the way in which the Tea Party botched strategy and tactics for Republicans, I most certainly do have sympathy for the establishment in this fight, and note that the establishment is not made up of Gerald Ford Republicans, but people like former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, who is no one's idea of a moderate or RiNO). Instead, what we have are concerns that the default has already begun, and while I don't think that any evaporated faith in the United States government "will never return," I certainly think that in the short term, this entire dumb fight has caused a lot of damage to the United States government. At the end of the day, Republicans are going to have to give a lot of ground in negotiations in order to allows the government to re-open and in order to prevent any kind of default, and the tragedy is that the upcoming Republican capitulation would never have been necessary if Republicans did not try to demand things from this fight that they were never going to get in the first place.
I have said before that the Republican stance in forcing the government shutdown, in flirting with a debt ceiling default, and in demanding concessions that they never had any realistic chance of getting was political malpractice of the first order, given the way in which Republican bumbles and stumbles took attention off of the failed Obamacare rollout. I see no reason to back away from that statement.