Politico runs an inadvertently terrifying story about the politics behind the shutdown:
Government shutdown: Why many Republicans have no reason to deal
The prevailing wisdom ahead of the government shutdown was that tea party lawmakers who agitated for it would fold within a few days, once they got an earful from angry constituents and felt the sting of bad headlines. House GOP leaders called it a “touch the stove” moment for the band of Republican rebels, when ideology would finally meet reality.
Uh huh - a few harsh NY Times editorials and perhaps a sneer from rachel Maddow and this would all be over.
But there’s another reality that explains why that thinking may well be wrong, and the country could be in for a protracted standoff: Most of the Republicans digging in have no reason to fear voters will ever punish them for it.
The vast majority of GOP lawmakers are safely ensconced in districts that, based on the voter rolls, would never think of electing a Democrat. Their bigger worry is that someone even more conservative than they are — bankrolled by a cadre of uncompromising conservative groups — might challenge them in a primary.
So from the standpoint of pure political survival, there’s every incentive to keep the government closed in what looks like a futile protest over Obamacare. The latest theory gaining currency in Congress is that it will take a potential default on the nation’s debt in a few weeks to bring the crisis to a head.
Well, no kidding. Its has been obvious for years and reported for months that these "extreme" Republicans are in fact acting quite rationally vis a vis their districts. Yet we still have the Senate Majority Leader saying they're 'cockamamie' and the President waiting to "break that fever".
This unfamiliarlty with reality would be even more troubling if I thought Reid and Obama were actually interested in a prompt resolution to this stand-off. But they want this fight and are lapping up the NY Times editorials and Maddowian denunciations (SOOO much more fun than hearing about Syria, or Snowden, or Obama's lapsed domestic agenda), so this may keep up for a while.
Ezra Klein actually earns his paycheck with two interviews - here is Robert Costa of the National Review on What Went Wrong:
RC: What we're seeing is the collapse of institutional Republican power. It’s not so much about Boehner. It’s things like the end of earmarks. They move away from Tom DeLay and they think they're improving the House, but now they have nothing to offer their members. The outside groups don't always move votes directly but they create an atmosphere of fear among the members. And so many of these members now live in the conservative world of talk radio and tea party conventions and Fox News invitations. And so the conservative strategy of the moment, no matter how unrealistic it might be, catches fire. The members begin to believe they can achieve things in divided government that most objective observers would believe is impossible. Leaders are dealing with these expectations that wouldn't exist in a normal environment.
I am not sure what he means by a "normal environment" but his point about the loss of earmark power is interesting. Campaign finance ought to tie in to that.
Grover Norquist ruminates about the sort of deal that could have avoided this and might yet resolve it:
Ezra Klein: So, do you think a shutdown is good for the issues and ideas you’re trying to push?
Grover Norquist: Not necessarily. I think the original plan for the Republicans was to move the continuing resolution past the debt ceiling and then to sit down with Obama and decide whether he would be willing to trade some relaxation of the sequester for significant reforms of entitlements. That was something Obama might well do. Democrats in the House and the Senate are very concerned about caps and limits in sequestration. Republicans could get significant long-term entitlement reform -- all on the spending side, I’m assured by leadership -- for some relaxation of sequester.
Something like that might’ve worked out. There was also the possibility, and I was an advocate, of pushing for delay. I thought Obama might do that. And even if he didn’t, I liked the idea of a two-month conversation over how Obama has delayed Obamacare for big business and big contributors and organized labor but not for you. So how about all Americans get treated equally and we have rule of law and delay everything?
EK: That sounds like the strategy that got us the shutdown, though.
GN: No, the leverage isn’t the debt ceiling. It’s not the CR. It’s the sequester. Democrats think this is desperate privation. It’s like the Kennedy kids with only one six-pack. They feel they’ve never been so mistreated. So there’s something they want. And there’s something Republicans want. So you could see a deal there. And the leverage was the sequester. That’s what struck me as what leadership was thinking about, and it made a great deal of sense.
And the final escape path still goes down Sequester Road:
Republicans have their principles. Let’s have health-care be more consumer-oriented, let’s not raise taxes, let’s reform government. I could imagine many things that would work inside those principles, but I’m not in Obama’s head. I don’t know how he values those things. If I were him I’d trade some money off the sequester today for reforms in entitlements that take place a long time from now. Those reforms will be done by somebody. You might as well get something for them. Someday Republicans will hold the White House and the Senate and they’ll pass the Ryan plan. You might as well get something for it.
That doesn't seem to be how Obama is thinking, nor does it seem to be what Boehner has been asking for. Yet, anyway - per Robert Costa, Boehner is moving back to a Grand Bargain II. Byron York notes that Grand Bargain II (or III, or umpty-bumpth) is a bit of a Hail Mary reflecting the absence of any better plan.