Posted by Curt on 19 January, 2018 at 3:48 pm. 15 comments already!


I’m writing this as Washington prepares for a government shutdown, and the great game of Who Will Get the Blame is afoot. For those who closely study such things, maybe you need to reevaluate your career choices this will be a fascinating natural experiment.

Brit Hume is right that, historically, the public always blames Republicans for government shutdowns, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that it’ll happen again. What makes this time interesting, however, is that the pieces on the board have never been arranged this way: The GOP controls all three branches of government, and it’s the Democrats who are flirting with Ted Cruzism. Chuck Schumer is insisting that his preferred policy — legalizing the “Dreamers” — be included in a government-funding deal. Democrats are right when they insist that the polls are on their side on the issue. But polls were kinda on Ted Cruz’s side as well, at least when it came to the unpopularity of Obamacare. It was the shutting-down of the government over the Obamacare that they didn’t support. Maybe the public will make the same distinction here.

That said, there are also other variables at work. As Brother Geraghty notes, because the GOP controls the executive branch, there will probably be less “shutdown theater.” Or at least that’s what the administration is signaling right now.


It has always infuriated me the way Democrats tried to make shutdowns as painful as possible. It was a shoot-the-hostages strategy, in which they took the handful of things that average Americans like, use, or depend on from the federal government and closed them down first in order to goose public anger. Someone once said it was like shutdowns turned the federal government into a strange insect that has all its vital and vulnerable organs outside its exoskeleton.

Still, I don’t know that this aversion to shutdown theater will last. After all, if the #SchumerShutdown messaging actually gains traction, it could be very tempting to run up the score, as it were. After all, President Trump once thought letting Obamacare come apart at the seams would be good politics.

Which brings us to the shark-hater. As I tried to explain on Special Report last night, I think that on the merits the Democrats will be to blame for a shutdown. But if you’re the sort of normal American who gets a lot of his news from the mainstream media or in drips and drabs from Facebook, I’m not sure the wonky details will overpower the general impression that the president likes chaos and creates it. Trump’s zig-zagging and theatrics over the last couple weeks — the FISA tweets, bill of love, s***hole, “I’ll sign anything you bring me,” the CHIP tweets — have been a gift to Democrats eager to claim a shutdown is all par for the course in a Trump presidency. And the fact that the GOP controls the whole government will make it easier to claim that a “normal” president would be able to avoid a shutdown.

That’s certainly how the polling looks right now.

Now, don’t get me wrong: The Democrats are making such asses of themselves that Stormy Daniels might be tempted to hit them with a copy of Forbes.

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