Jim DeMint
Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation. (Evan Vucci /Associated Press)

As I have written several times, the scheme to shut down the government in order to force President Obama to snuff out his signature legislation is incapable of working. President Obama will never abandon Obamacare, and it is virtually certain the Republicans will be blamed for an extended government shutdown.

I heartily concur with Ramesh Ponnuru’s recollection of the last time the GOP shut down the government:

Gingrich himself accepted the conventional wisdom that his party had lost. That’s what associates of his told me (among others) at the time, and that’s how they recollect it now. The “balanced budget deal” of 1997 included the creation of a new health-care entitlement for children, something the Republicans of 1995 would never have accepted but the post-shutdown Republicans were too beat down to resist. The conservative end of the party hated the deal. . . . While Clinton’s poll numbers improved after the shutdowns, Gingrich’s declined.

That is not to say the shutdown scheme fails to work for Heritage Action, its main supporter. A press release from last week reads:

Today, Heritage Action for America announced a $550,000 “Defund Obamacare” ad campaign.  The online campaign, which will run in 100 Republican-controlled districts, will encourage House Republicans to support conservative efforts to stop Obamacare by defunding the entire law.

“The American people may have been locked out of the legislative process that gave us Obamacare, but they will be the force behind stopping this unworkable, unaffordable law.  Congress should seize the moment and defund the entire law,” said Heritage Action CEO Michael A. Needham.

This you see, is how the game is played. (It is also noteworthy that the 501(c)(3) Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint seems to be heading the campaign.) The letter also references a Heritage Action poll, which, as I and others have pointed out, does not pass the smell test.

Who is benefiting here? Why certainly not the GOP, which is being goading into political suicide and whose incumbents are being set up for ridicule and potential primary races. Certainly not the conservative movement, which DeMint and Needham will claim “betrayed” them. Certainly not Heritage Foundation, whose identity is now submerged to that of the political operation at its sister entity. (A former Heritage scholar confides that scholars are unavoidably harmed, “I knew it would be impossible for scholars at Heritage to be immune from criticism even if the division and formalities were more carefully observed.”)

The ones who benefit are Heritage Action and its executives; Jim DeMint; and a few gadflies like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). They reap attention and fundraising dollars. The heck with the country, the movement and the party, right?

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.