For many of us, to remember the last time Republicans shut down the federal government is to think of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich. Specifically, the far-right Georgian admitted in November 1995 that he closed the government in part because President Clinton hurt his feelings on Air Force One -- the president didn't chat with Gingrich during an overseas flight and then made the Speaker exit at the rear of the plane.
It was a moment that captured the entire fiasco quite beautifully. A petulant, out-of-control Republican leader shut down the government largely to spite the president who made him feel bad.
We don't yet know if a similar moment will come to define this Republican shutdown, but I'd like to nominate this gem as an early contender.
"We're not going to be disrespected," conservative Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., added. "We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."
Go ahead, Republicans, tell us another one about how the shutdown is Democrats' fault.
I've long argued that congressional Republicans are now defined by a post-policy nihilism, but even I'm surprised an elected GOP member of Congress would say this out loud, on purpose, and on the record.
The quote is just ... perfect. "We're not going to be disrespected" helps capture the extent to which Republican lawmakers are acting like a street gang, hurting the country deliberately out of some twisted sense of self-serving pride. "We have to get something out of this" reinforces the way in which GOP officials are holding the country hostage, expecting a ransom to be paid.
And "I don't know what that even is" makes clear that Republicans are being driven by a mindless radicalism. There's no meaningful policy goal in mind; there's no substantive motivation; there isn't even a strategic end goal. There's just a primal instinct and a right-wing id causing a national crisis.