The feared partial shutdown of the federal government that is in its second week has not turned out to be the disaster for Republicants that the establishment GOP and some in talk radio tried to say it would be when it was just a glimmer in Barack Obama's eye. At least up until this point in its second week, the polling shows that Republicants are not losing the battle of the shutdown, in fact, in some surveys, they are actually gaining ground on the Democrats as the party that is trying to resolve the stalemate.
But for some scared little rabbits on the Right, like radio movie critic and self-proclaimed Conservative, Michael Medved, the shutdown is analogous to the Goldwater loss in the 1964 presidential election. Mr. Medved actually whined for weeks before the event that Republicants would be slitting their own throats if they engaged in such reckless behavior as standing on their principles. Even after the shutdown occurred, it was Mr. Medved who suggested that Republicants find a "gracious way to lose." And that statement, in a nut shell, is what is wrong with the moderate and establishment influence on the party of Lincoln and Reagan.
Had John Boehner and the Republicants in the House stood against the oppressiveness of President Obama and Senate Democrats and done nothing after the shutdown, I would agree that it would not have gone well for them. It still may not, but their strategy of sending individual funding bills to the Senate for various functions of government, and letting the Democrats own the shutdown lock, stock and barrel, is the best strategy for success. And the bill passed by the House last weekend to authorize back pay for federal workers after the shutdown ends, was a stroke of brilliance. If Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate refuse to take up the bill, they will be pilloried by the federal workers and their unions. If they pass the bill, the American people will wonder why back pay for federal workers is more important than Veterans Affairs, National Institute of Health, Parks and Monuments, Federal Emergency Management, Defense and Homeland Intelligence, and other government functions that the House has chosen to fund but the Democrat-controlled Senate has not.
President Obama called congressional leaders to the White House last week just to say that he was not going to negotiate. This week, he called John Boehner to say the same thing and to tell the Speaker that he, the President, would accept nothing less than complete surrender from the Republicants. One does not keep telling one's opponent that he is unwilling to negotiate if he thinks he is winning. And President Obama's behavior is analogous to a child holding his breath to get what he wants, and seeing that his parents are not giving into his demands, he then threatens to run away from home. President Obama is not threatening to run away from home, unfortunately, but his insistence that he will not negotiate with John Boehner and the Republicants is just as empty a threat. And it signals his growing concern that the Republicants are winning the battle for the minds and hearts of the American people when it comes to assigning blame for the shutdown. This battle is the Republicants to win or lose, stand on principle and keep sending funding bills to the Democrat-controlled Senate to ignore, or get weak in the knees and give President Obama the surrender he wants but to which he is not entitled.