Why the GOP can’t avoid responsibility

He's always pointing fingers in the wrong direction.
He's always pointing fingers in the wrong direction.
Associated Press

It’s understandable that no one in Washington wants to be blamed for the government shutdown, even those responsible for it, because crises like these are wildly unpopular. The electorate has come to expect sharp partisan differences, but shutdowns are tantrums that the public tends to find repulsive.

And so, we will hear many congressional Republicans and many in the political media suggest Democrats bear some or all of the responsibility for this fiasco. For those who care about reality in the slightest, anyone making such an argument deserves to be laughed at.

The detail to keep in mind is that most GOP lawmakers aren’t bothering with the pretense. They know that Republicans shut down the government – and they’re proud of it.

“Because we’re right, simply because we’re right,” said Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, one of the most conservative of House lawmakers. “We can recover from a political squabble, but we can never recover from Obamacare.” […]

Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas and chairman of the House Rules Committee, hinted that Republicans were unlikely to give up without at least another round since they see their campaign against the health care law as something of a higher quest. […]

“What was I elected for? To try to change the law on behalf of my constituents, to stand on my core principles and do my best to represent them ethically, honestly, based on the core principles we share,” said Representative John Culberson, Republican of Texas. “This is a matter of core principle.”

Representative Steve Pearce, Republican of New Mexico, described the task facing his colleagues as perhaps quixotic, but ideologically critical. “At times, you must act on principle and not ask what cost, what are the chances of success,” he said.

Oh, and by the way, blame Democrats?

Republicans picked this fight; they rejected a center-right spending measure Democrats were willing to accept; and now they’re boasting about having done exactly what they wanted to do.

This is less about value judgments than demonstrable facts. Maybe you think the shutdown is a great idea; maybe you’re disgusted. Either way, that congressional Republicans are responsible for these developments is not in doubt. Anyone who suggests otherwise is playing Americans for fools.