The unofficial "Democrats lost the shutdown" media highlight reel

As promised last night, we will eventually get bored with laughing at Chuck Schumer for lighting an exploding cigar for himself and his caucus.

Just not yet.

Kudos to David Rutz and the Free Beacon for some of their finest editing ever here. They faced a challenging dilemma: Given the sheer volume of footage of po-faced reporters and harrumphing progressives lamenting the Democratic capitulation, how do you choose just two minutes of video for a highlight reel? (Rutz went the extra mile by splicing in erstwhile Schumer mouthpiece Jimmy Kimmel mourning yesterday’s big cave.) Even Schumer’s own caucus couldn’t be bothered to put on a happy face for reporters, choosing to grumble to them anonymously instead:

“We went in with a very weak set of cards, with [25] people up for reelection,” said one Democratic senator, one of several lawmakers who requested anonymity to assess Schumer’s performance frankly…

A third Democratic senator said it was an unwinnable battle from the start because the GOP funding measures included a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a top Democratic priority.

“You can’t win. McConnell used craven politics by pitting one group of children versus another,” the third lawmaker said.

Tying a funding bill to a long-term CHIP extension was one smart play by Republicans to apply pressure to Democrats. Another smart play was keeping Trump out of the fray of negotiations. POTUS “was tempted by Schumer’s offer to provide wall funding and increase defense spending,” according to WaPo, but he was smart enough to listen to McConnell and Paul Ryan when they advised him that Democrats were in a jam and likely to buckle. The polling was more complicated than the public knew, too. Three different national polls showed Republicans would be blamed for a shutdown, but (a) the public’s memory about these things tends to be short and (b) the polling in red states, where numerous vulnerable Democrats are facing reelection this year, was different.

A survey of red-state voters conducted last month by the Senate Majority PAC, which aims to elect Democrats to the Senate, showed that 48 percent of respondents would blame them for a shutdown, compared with 39 percent who said the fault would lie with Trump and the Republicans.

Other Democrats also felt uncomfortable with the shutdown being defined purely as an exercise to address the concerns of the dreamers.

It’d be a cold comfort to Democrats this fall to know that most of the country thought the GOP was to blame if Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, and Heidi Heitkamp got punted out of the Senate because red-staters saw things differently. On the other hand:

CNN’s pre-shutdown poll on that same subject looked different, and obviously a trend towards Democrats nationally as the shutdown wore on wouldn’t have necessarily solved their red-state problem. But if you’re a liberal angry at Schumer for caving, there’s another reason for you to be angry. If only he’d held out a little bit longer…

In lieu of an exit question, read Matt Fuller of HuffPost arguing that the Democratic “cave” isn’t nearly as bad as disappointed progressives and reporters (but I repeat myself) are making it out to be. In the end, what did Schumer give up? He lost some face but he gets another crack at this in three weeks and this time he has a promise, sort of, from McConnell to hold a vote on a DACA fix before then. If Schumer’s lost anything, it’s a bit of his freedom to maneuver: Having caved once and been pummeled for it, he can’t do it again next month. If Trump and McConnell drive another hard bargain, he’ll be forced to roll the dice on a more extended shutdown and hope that the next exploding cigar doesn’t cause a much bigger boom.

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