Hi, it's Steve -- I'm back, though this blog was on fire while I was gone, so maybe I should have stayed away a few more days. Thank you, Aimai, Crank, and Tom. You did a hell of a job.
Today's headlines make it seem as if the shutdown crisis could be coming to an end -- Politico says Republicans are backing away from the fight over Obamacare, though only to shift it to spending and entitlements; the Koch brothers are also insisting that they care more about the latter issues than Obamacare, and say they really don't want a debt default. And, of course, Paul Ryan published that op-ed yesterday in which he brought up a number of GOP priorities, but didn't mention Obamacare.
The conventional wisdom is that Republicans know they're losing. I'd put it in a slighly different way: the members of the crazy caucus thought by now they'd be winning, with the country rallying to their side and the White House desperate to do something about the newly unleashed anti-Obamacare rage. Everyone else in the GOP just went along for the ride, terrified of primary challenges.
Republicans clearly aren't winning -- but I don't see signs that they're losing. Everyone is losing, which means no one is losing. Yes, there are polls like that Gallup survey that came out yesterday, the one that showed Republican favorability sinking to a record low. But Democratic favorability is down, too. And a lot of people who don't like the GOP right now are Republicans, which almost certainly means that they'll turn out in 2014 and vote Republican. I'm with Ed Kilgore, who thinks Republican voters see their party as inadequately extreme but still preferable to the alternative, and I'm also with Charlie Pierce:
... as far as the people who are driving the Reign Of The Morons are concerned, these numbers mean precisely dick.Pierce adds:
They will look at the poll and see themselves as battling evermore valiantly against even more overwhelming odds. They will see themselves beset on all sides by liberals, and RINOs, and crooked pollsters. They will go back to their carefully barbered congressional districts ... and see these numbers almost completely reversed there, so what are they to do but keep on keepin' on doing their people's business against the powerful dark forces arrayed against them all.
Most of the elite courtier press likely will ignore them, or attribute them to a disgust by "the American people" toward the "dysfunction" in Washington, without ever naming the obvious source thereof.And that's a huge problem: people who read lefty blogs blame Republicans, and even people who read Politico and other insider-y news sources see the shutdown as the Republicans' doing -- but the general-interest media is presenting this as two indistinguishably bratty kids fighting in a sandbox. Here's the top-of-the-fold photo on page 1 of today's print New York Times:
I came home last night and watched an NBC news broadcast that started with seven minutes of huffy outrage about death benefits for servicemembers -- a problem presented as "the government's" fault or Congress's the White House's. The notion that this happened because Republicans shut down the government was nowhere in evidence:
Gallup, but Barack Obama's is down 10. And Obama's job approval is down to 37% in the AP/GfK poll. Obama's numbers will come more or less to the status quo ante -- but so will the Republicans'. This is not the moment when everyone sees how crazy the GOP is. It seems as if it's not even theoretically possible for that moment to arrive, unless and until Republicans literally start a war with real bullets. And yes, that could happen someday. But for now, there's no significant shift in public opinion, except downward, for all involved.