Before getting into this mess, Republicans ought to have asked themselves a third question: “Will a shutdown help us win enough seats, and the White House, to accomplish what the shutdown couldn’t?” The jury is out on that one until 2016, but at the moment it doesn’t look promising. The Republicans used to be famous for hanging together while the Democrats squabbled and scrambled, but those roles have reversed.
It’s true that the president acted unseemly in his sour victory speech Thursday morning, but he’s always had a knack for saying outrageous things in moderate tones — and he’ll get away with it this time, too. Obama had his soothing tone and his shutdown theater, and by that time the GOP had… what, exactly?
If there’s a fourth question, it’s the one Republicans ought to be asking themselves right now.
“Why do we keep playing to Obama’s strengths?”