Is this fiscal standoff (the fifth since Republicans took control of the House in 2011) just about scoring political points, or is it about governing?

If it’s all about politics, bully for Obama. A majority of voters will likely side with the president over Republicans in a budget dispute because of his popularity and the GOP’s pathetic approval ratings.

If it’s about governing, the story changes: In any enterprise, the chief executive is ultimately accountable for success and failure. Sure, blame Congress — castigate all 535 lawmakers, or the roughly half you hate. But there is only one president. Even if he’s right on the merits, Obama may be on the wrong side of history. …

“Americans are fed up with the jousting.… There is a lot of public posturing but apparently not much genuine conversation.”

White House officials and liberal commentators will push back: They say it is naïve if not outright stupid to think that Republicans want to talk to Obama, or that conversations would do any good. I contend it’s not any smarter to believe that the president’s agenda will be passed without breaking gridlock, or that Washington is the only place where two wrongs make you right. Somebody has to be the grownup here. Let it be the president.