Consider: This is very similar to the warning offered this week by Dave Winston, a veteran pollster and adviser to the House GOP leadership. In an interview with the well connected Robert Costa, Winston knocked down the idea of a shutdown as follows: “The electorate expects Congress to govern. House Republicans are going to offer their health care alternatives within that process.”
Indeed, House conservatives the other day let it be known that they would introduce an alternative to Obamacare this fall.
Just two days ago, the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore — whom Dems believe sometimes channels the thinking of GOP leaders — floated the radical idea that Republicans should point to the sequester and the falling deficit to declare victory in the spending wars, instead of provoking a costly and destructive government shutdown fight that would only help Obama and Dems.
And earlier this week, GOP strategists with direct experience of GOP midterm losses in 1998 told the also-well-connected Byron York that Republicans are at real risk of duplicating 1998’s mistakes. The strategists noted that Republicans ran relentlessly against Bill Clinton — even though he wasn’t on the ballot — and that this didn’t work; rather than gain seats, as is customary in the off year of an oppositional president’s second term, Republicans lost seats. York concluded that a similar outcome was possible next year “if Republicans stick to being an opposition party on the attack rather than the alternative party offering an agenda.”
In other words, Newt’s comments today are grounded in experience.
I don’t know what addressing this problem will look like in practice — or whether anything will be done about it, given the structural realities underpinning our politics today — but it does look as if top Republicans are well aware that it exists.