There’s an oft-cited apparently apocryphal anecdote, mentioned in The Hunt for Red October, of Hernan Cortez burning his ships after reaching the New World, in order to ensure his men were highly motivated. A certain portion of the GOP grassroots wants that kind of all-or-nothing brinksmanship, to put all of their remaining chips into the middle of the table and bet it all on winning one fight. You win, you win big – i.e., President Obama, capitulating in humiliation, signing legislation to repeal his signature domestic policy achievement. The problem is that if you lose, you lose big.
Lee contends that Rove’s scenario amounts to “the other side is going to try to blame something bad on us.” Except that a government shutdown will garner coverage that makes the Fiscal Cliff look like a handicapped ramp. It will be like the sequester doomsday talk, except that the doomsday talk will be largely right, at least in the short term. The consequences of a government shutdown would be felt immediately and widespread.
For what it’s worth, Senator Lee is completely, totally convinced that if the government shuts down, Republicans will win the messaging fight. I’d rather live in a world where he’s right. But I don’t think he’s right.