Talk about a missed opportunity for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “I can’t help wondering what would have happened if Rubio had stood up to his conservative colleagues, as Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) did? In the short term, he would have taken even more heat from the people who won’t support him anyway. In the long run, however, he might have arisen as a sane, serious conservative who was willing to demonstrate leadership and stand up for it no matter the cost. Instead, Rubio looked like a follower — someone who was goaded into supporting a stand by the more powerful conservative leaders in the Senate.”

(J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press) (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Republicans threw away an opportunity to make this the biggest story of the fall: “Carney: Obama ‘not happy’ with ACA rollout.” It’s not just the rollout “glitches”; it is that it’s not affordable or attractive to many uninsured people.

Republicans who have lost their way should pay attention to a Republican winner. “What makes [Iowa Gov. Terry] Branstad more remarkable is that he governs one of the most politically divided states. He is, argues Steffen Schmidt, a professor of political science at Iowa State University, the most successful and pragmatic politician in the United States. Hyperbole, perhaps; but Mr. Branstad is already America’s second-longest-serving governor, and he is likely to be re-elected next year.”

Have they fumbled away the House majority? David Wasserman for the Cook Report: “Mostly as a result of the damage House Republicans sustained during the 16-day government shutdown, we are making changes to our ratings in 15 House seats, all but one in Democrats’ direction. Democrats still have a very uphill climb to a majority, and it’s doubtful they can sustain this month’s momentum for another year. But Republicans’ actions have energized Democratic fundraising and recruiting efforts and handed Democrats a potentially effective message.” The Cruz effect.

They sure dropped the ball. A few are realizing that “the mistake of House Republicans (and by implication Senator Cruz and his allies in the Senate) was that they took an unpopular law, the Affordable Care Act, and hurt themselves by going after it with an even more unpopular tactic — a willingness to shut down the government and not raise the debt ceiling if ObamaCare were not defunded).”

Now we know those advocating lifting of the Gaza blockade blew it. Elliott Abrams explains that ” it turns out that what was being constructed by Hamas in Gaza was not an economy, not houses or public buildings, but tunnels whose purpose was to permit terrorist attacks into Israel. Most recently, Israel discovered a great project: a tunnel 60 feet deep and 1.5 miles long. Construction appears to have been started two years ago — after cement began to flow into Gaza. . . . What’s interesting is the number of proponents of lifting the blockade of Gaza who have now admitted error. The number appears to be zero. Not one has acknowledged that allowing construction materials into Gaza allowed Hamas to construct more tunnels, and that Israel may have been right to prevent their arrival. Being a critic of Israel apparently means never having to say you’re sorry.”

If they had turned over a new leaf and gotten off the sequester and discretionary spending, they’d be better off. “Given that the average US debt-to-GDP ratio was 37% from 1957 through 2007, a better policy goal would be to immediately shift — via entitlement reform and pro-growth polices rather than more discretionary spending cuts — the debt-to-GDP ratio onto a downward trajectory back toward that 37% level, if not lower, over the next two decades. That would be a far smarter and feasible agenda for Republicans and conservatives and libertarians of all types.”