The shutdown fight has been interesting in its particulars but dull in its overall trajectory, which was so predictable that the news stories on the endgame almost could have been filed in advance. The late journalist Jack Germond called his book on the 1984 presidential election, “Wake Us When It’s Over.” No one who went to sleep two weeks ago would be surprised to wake up and find a last-minute, Senate-led deal that gives Republicans precious little for their trouble.
Even bomb-throwers hesitated to light this fuse. Sen. Rand Paul never thought the shutdown was a good strategy. When the allegedly out-there libertarian famous for his doctrinal purity doubts your tactical judgment, it should be taken as a sign. (The shrewd Paul knows how to pick his fights — his drone filibuster achieved its objective of swaying public opinion and extracting a change in the Obama administration’s stated policy.)
Sen. Ted Cruz, the very able point man for the defunders, kept the strategy afloat longer than most people would have expected, but even he could never explain persuasively the path from a shutdown to the desired end of a signing ceremony in the White House defunding the president’s signature piece of legislation.