‘We’re winning’: A ‘game’-changer?

October 4, 2013

The GOP is now focused like a laser on an anonymous White House official’s comment that the administration is “winning” the shutdown debate.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Said a senior administration official: “We are winning…It doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result.”

But while “we’re winning” is definitely quotable, it’s not the most pivotal part of the quote. Instead, Republicans will (or would be wise to) focus on the latter part of the quote in which the official says it “doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts.

Why?

Because of course this is about winning and getting what you want — and the GOP has said much the same thing. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on a hot mike with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday: “We’re going to win this, I think.”

What’s potentially more damaging is when the official says that the length of the shutdown doesn’t matter. That’s when we leave the realm of gamesmanship and get into the realm of insensitivity — particularly given many federal workers have been furloughed, and Americans have been otherwise affected by the shutdown.

Republicans will use the latter part of the quote to cast the White House as uncaring — which is a better line of attack than simply that they want to “win” this debate.

That’s why White House press secretary Jay Carney was quick to separate the White House from that part of the quote, tweeting Friday that he “disavows” the idea.

President Obama was asked whether he was "winning" earlier Friday and responded, "there's no winning" and "no one is winning."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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