The Republican leadership went to the White House yesterday to meet with the President. Their stated purpose was to negotiate the impasse over the debt ceiling and government shutdown. In reality Republicans were there to negotiate the terms of their surrender.
Republicans believed that the President would cave over the shutdown…would cave over the debt limit…would cave over Obamacare. Ted Cruz had all but guaranteed it.
But the President stood firm, and now Republicans find themselves staring up at an avalanche of unpopularity unprecedented in modern politics.
So Republicans trudged to the White House with hat in hand, hoping to save face and scratch some sort of win out of what has amounted to a colossal strategic blunder.
It appears Republicans have managed to get a six week extension of the debt ceiling and the President’s promise to sit down and discuss spending cuts, and tax and entitlement reforms.
As for as the Republican promise to keep the government closed until the President agrees to change the free spending culture in Washington...it appears that the government will re-open in a few days.
And then there is the defunding of Obamacare. You may recall that the Republicans’ primary purpose for engaging in this political brinksmanship was to defund/repeal/kill the President’s signature piece of legislation. But their reckless tactics raised such furor among the voters that Obamacare is not only off the table but it is poling at a higher favorability than it did before Ted Cruz embarked on his misguided mission. Instead of the lead story above the fold being all about the problems the government is having with the health care rollout, all anyone is talking about is how badly they view the Republican Party.
And where is Ted Cruz, the architect of this suicide mission. Silent! After leading his troops blindly into a box canyon he has apparently run off to hide. Cruz claims to be a history buff. Perhaps he should have paid closer attention to the chapters on Custer’s Last stand and Pickett’s Charge.
A few short weeks ago the President was having a tough time leading the nation as well as his own party. His favorability numbers were upside down in the polls. His health care reform legislation was viewed in a negative light by the public. His own Democratic caucus was gravitating away from him in anticipation of the upcoming mid-terms. The Tea Party was at the White House gates, pitchforks and torches in hand.
Then Ted Cruz and the Tea Party took the Republican Party down the rabbit hole and suddenly things changed.
An angry President decided to stand firm on his convictions. His approval ratings improved. His health care initiative is growing in popularity even as it stumbles out of the gate. His caucus has rallied behind him and his opponents are fighting among themselves. Who knew?
Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. The president can thank Ted Cruz for his good fortune.