That the White House feels this way is a “secret” the way Israel’s nukes are a “secret.” The reality is clear to everyone, but no good can come from formal acknowledgment.

Says Sam Stein of HuffPo, “Obviously, polling data would support this contention and certainly, from the conversations I’ve had with senior administration officials, the White House feels that it has the upper hand. But to say you don’t care how long the shutdown lasts is to suggest that the impact it’s having throughout the country isn’t factoring into your strategic thinking.”

Why, yes. It does suggest that, doesn’t it?

Terry Holt, a longtime Republican strategist, said Mr. Obama’s strategy rests on a cold-eyed calculation that Republicans are the ones with the most to lose. “As long as the president thinks his poll numbers are going to be good, I don’t expect the government to reopen,” he said.

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.”

The corollary to that, of course, is that the more the public suffers from the government being closed, the more the White House “wins.” That’s the essence of shutdown theater. Crazy theory: Maybe the reason the White House isn’t factoring public hardship into its strategic thinking is because, for all its blather, it doesn’t believe that there is much hardship. Furloughed workers will get back pay; people who can’t visit national parks are inconvenienced, but not so much so that Democrats will give up their opportunity to “win” politically because of it. And what about the cases of real, life-or-death hardship that need to be addressed urgently? You already got your answer on that.

To give you a sense of just how “secret” this is, via the Corner, here’s GOP Rep. Devin Nunes telling Jake Tapper that House Dems have been crowing openly about shutdown fee-vah in conversation with other members. Exit quotation from Tapper himself, who’s fed up with the talk of political victories from both the unnamed official in the Journal piece and from Rand Paul: “There’s a definition of ‘winning’ being used in DC that recalls that of Charlie Sheen.”