At the last GOP conference meeting of the two-week government shutdown, no lawmakers went to the microphones to give their take.

Instead, after Speaker John Boehner told Republicans they had “fought the good fight,” they all rose up to offer a standing ovation. “It was one of the easiest meetings we’ve ever had,” says Representative Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina…

“We all agree Obamacare is an abomination. We all agree taxes are too high. We all agree spending is too high. We all agree Washington is getting in the way of job growth. We all agree we have a real debt crisis that will cripple future generations. We all agree on these fundamental conservative principles. … We must not confuse tactics with principles. The differences between us are dwarfed by the differences we have with the Democratic Party, and we can do more for the American people united,” he told them.

“Republicans always had one of two choices,” Kibbe said. “They could fight against Democrats who were completely intransigent – they said ‘I’m not going to negotiate.’ Or they could capitulate early on.”

“Instead of presenting a united front opposed to Obamacare, opposed to spending so much money we don’t have, they started shooting at each other,” he continued…

“So, did you actually accomplish anything?” Cooper asked.

Kibbe replied that he thought he did. “What we accomplished was fighting,” he said. “It’s important in Washington D.C. to step up to the plate and actually stand for something.”

In a sign of the internal backlash against the right wing of the House Republican Conference, Louisiana Republican Charles Boustany questioned the political allegiances and motivations of his tea party-aligned colleagues and said they had put the GOP majority at risk in the current shutdown fight.

“There are members with a different agenda,” Boustany said Wednesday in an interview in his office. “And I’m not sure they’re Republicans and I’m not sure they’re conservative.”…

[H]e pointed the blame squarely at tea party lawmakers who he said were more concerned about bolstering their conservative bona fides than governing.

“Their allegiance is not to the members in the conference. Their allegiance is not to the leadership team and to conservative values,” he said. “Their allegiance is to these outside Washington DC interest groups that raise money and go after conservative Republicans.”

Ted Cruz and Mike Lee may not have been able to strike a death blow to Obamacare today, but they were able to fight a fight that would have been impossible before them. They have now made it less and less possible for Republicans to collaborate with Democrats to fix or stabilize Obamacare…

The establishment has given conservatives a brilliant opportunity to advance against them and then against the Democrats. As Obamacare now goes into effect full swing, conservatives can show that they tried to stop it while Mitch McConnell and so many others sat and watched from a cozy booth the Capitol Hill Club leaving the fighting to others while they did everything possible to undermine the fight.

As more Americans watch Obamacare fail them through the Republican primary season, conservatives will be able to put the focus on Republicans who funded Obamacare instead of fighting it. Whether they like it or not, Republicans in Congress will find their names on ballots in 2014. They cannot hide or escape fate.

Grover Norquist isn’t happy with the Defunders. The Americans for Tax Reform president told reporters today that they have a lot of apologies to make and bridges to re-build.

“It’d be a good idea if they stopped referring to other Republicans as Hitler appeasers because they opposed the strategy they put forward which failed,” Norquist says. “I think if you make a mistake as big as what they did, you owe your fellow senators and congressmen a big apology — and your constituents, as well, because nothing they did advanced the cause of repealing or dismantling Obamacare.”…

“They hurt the conservative movement, they hurt people’s health care, they hurt the country’s economic situation and they hurt the Republican party,” he says. “And a lot of congressmen and senators are not going to win because we spent three months chasing our own tail — or at least, parts of the conservative movement spent three months chasing their own tail.”…

“These are the people who said, ‘Plan: Step One, Invade Iraq. Step Two, It turns into Kansas,’” Norquist says. “Could I ask if there’s anything in between Step One and Step Two? ‘Oh ye of little faith.’”

“In conventional terms, it seems inexplicable, but Senator Cruz and his adherents do not view things in conventional terms. They look back over the past half-century, including the supposedly golden era of Ronald Reagan, and see the uninterrupted forward march of the American left. Entitlement spending never stopped growing. The regulatory state continued to expand. The national debt grew and grew and finally in the Obama years, exploded. They see an American population becoming unrecognizable from the free and self-reliant people they thought they knew. And they see the Republican Party as having utterly failed to stop the drift toward an unfree nation supervised by an overweening and bloated bureaucracy. They are not interested in Republican policies that merely slow the growth of this leviathan. They want to stop it and reverse it. And they want to show their supporters they’ll try anything to bring that about.

“And if some of those things turn out to be reckless and doomed, well so be it.”

The latest Pew Research Center poll is chock full of data revealing an emerging rift between tea party-aligned Republicans and the rest of the party. But if there is one area of relative agreement, it’s this: a belief that tea party is independent from the GOP.

More than half of all Republicans (51 percent) say the the tea party is separate. Only about three in 10 say it is part of the Republican Party. Nearly equal shares of tea party Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (52 percent) and non-tea party Republicans and GOP-leaning independents (55 percent) say the movement is separate from the GOP…

The question is how strong that link is and where it’s headed in the future. It’s clearly eroded in recent months: The poll shows a drop in tea party favorability among conservative, moderate and liberal Republicans since June.

In its statement on the senate deal, Freedom Works asserts “The line separating the Democrats and the Republican establishment is fading- it might have disappeared today. This is about Washington insiders versus the rest of America now.” Leaving aside the fact that many real Americans outside the establishment do not see eye to eye with Freedom Works, this seems like just another version of the beloved mantra of Naderites, Anarchists and other outfits on the political periphery: There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties. And I think that is nonsense. It’s one thing to say that the GOP is too liberal or the Democrats are too conservative, statements that have often been not merely defensible but accurate, depending on where you sit on the political spectrum. But the notion that there is no meaningful difference between the two parties is just silly. Even if supposed RINOs John McCain or Mitt Romney had been elected, the policies we have today would be very, very different. If McCain won, we might have had less than ideal healthcare reforms, but we wouldn’t have gotten ObamaCare. If Mitt Romney had won, regardless of what was in his heart, his vows to Republican voters would have required him to undo ObamaCare, perhaps not entirely but certainly very significantly.

Let’s simply agree that for the sake of argument that the deal hashed out by McConnell is awful. He was left with no good options. No fair minded person can really argue that this predicament is where the Republican leadership wants to be. When the Japanese signed their surrender to the Americans, it would be ridiculous to say that the “line separating the Japanese and the Americans disappeared today.” The Japanese simply lost and that they tried to lose on the best terms possible. The same goes for the GOP. A Japanese nationalist would be on firmer ground criticizing the Japanese leadership for losing, and a libertarian populist — or even an establishment “RINO” — could likewise condemn failures of GOP leadership, whatever they may be. But as an analytical matter those failures simply don’t mean that we have anything like a single mono-ideological party called the “establishment.”

Senate Republicans knew the House GOP conference was divided, and they knew Boehner’s hold on his conference was shaky, but they were still stunned by the GOP’s utter failure to accomplish anything.

“They are a majority party that wants to be a minority party,” the Senate Republican aide said of the House GOP. “This is not how a majority party acts. The majority party takes the power that it has and puts it to use. And in this case, they refused to use the power they had because they would rather rail against the majority that they should be trying to deal with.”

“They showed they would rather be in the minority than have to deal with a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Democratic president.”

If no understanding can be reached between Republican and conservative leaders, then one of the two groups will be destroyed — either the party, or the movement. When I see hard-core conservative lawmakers like Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Raul Labrador, R-Idaho circling the wagons around Speaker Boehner today, that’s a sign that conservative leaders have a lot more to lose. Recall that Labrador wouldn’t even vote for Boehner for Speaker. Yet at this juncture, he seems to appreciate the situation the Speaker was boxed into.

Are GOP leaders also at risk? Yes, but in a much less meaningful sense. They can lose their majorities. (Recall that this didn’t work out so well for conservatives last time, when Democrats took control and passed Obamacare.) Or the leaders could lose their positions within the party. But yesterday’s events proved that they are relatively powerless within the party anyway. Sure, you can topple Boehner, Cantor, and McConnell, but unless the conservative leadership embraces realism, all you get is another group of party leaders you can put into unrealistic positions, whom you can’t work with, who will gradually become less and less willing even to bother trying to work with you.

Consider the gains the pro-life movement has made over the years within the Republican Party, state legislation, the courts, and public opinion. There is no cause I believe more worthy in all the world. Yet where would pro-lifers be today had they instead simply and inflexibly demanded a government shutdown unless and until abortion was abolished? Pro-lifers figured out a way to work within the system and advance the ball.

The reconciliation that’s needed now will be difficult because of the current (and very predictable) bitterness caused by the perceived sell-out on the one side and the moving of the goalposts on the other. But neither the GOP nor conservatism can stand independently of one another. As they once said of the disunity among the colonies, the only option are to “Join or Die.”

As [one GOP strategist] noted, “Before the shutdown it wasn’t plausible that Democrats could regain the House next year. It may be plausible now, but we aren’t sure. But a mediocre year in 2014 for Republicans could improve the chances of a Democratic House takeover in 2016, a presidential year.”

“We need to have good years in (what should be) good years, because you know we are going to have bad years in bad years,” he continued, worrying that the last two weeks have turned lemonade back into a lemon for House Republicans.

All of this leaves two questions. First, are we going to see a replay of the last few weeks in January and February, when the current budget deal expires? And second, will a full-scale Republican civil war — which could be played out in Senate races from Kentucky to Kansas and Mississippi — follow?

Via the Daily Rushbo.

She added that the tea party should “consider whether they want to be the name-callers of the drama,” noting that the conservative grassroots has a penchant for calling Republicans who disagree with their approaches “RINOs” and “the surrender caucus.”

“Hecklers,” Kissel added.

“Dumb stuff,” Noonan agreed. “Stop it. You’re grown up. You’re big people in a big drama that may be a big evolution. Sit down. Get along. Work it out.”

“I was trying to think earlier today, if ever in my life I could remember any major political party being so irrelevant.”