Ezra Klein thinks that Republicans will shut down the government:
April 8th. That’s the deadline for Republicans and Democrats to reach a deal on funding for the remainder of 2011. No deal? Then the government shuts down. And if I were a betting man, that’s where my money would be right now: the negotiations have become too acrimonious, the issues at their heart too numerous and personal to the parties, to make a deal likely even in normal circumstances. But in circumstances in which newly elected Republicans are trying to prove to their base that they won’t catch Beltway fever and compromise while Democrats are trying to prove they won’t get pushed around by a party that controls a minority of the federal government? A deal seems near impossible.
There’s an old Cedric the Entertainer routine from Kings of Comedy, about how if you’re late for a show, you can either hope that no one is in your seats because you don’t want to have to confront them or you can wish that someone is in your seats so you have the pleasure of kicking them out. He puts a racial spin on it (white people hope, black people wish) that won’t make any sense to you if you’ve ever been around white people in Boston or New York, but it’s an interesting distinction nevertheless.
Democrats have to stop hoping the Republicans don’t do something nuts and start wishing that they would. The most impressive political campaign I’ve ever been around was Eric Massa’s 2008 campaign. The guy is as crazy as a shithouse rat, but anything you brought up as a possible tactic by his opponent, he’d say “I wish he would do X, so I can come back at him with Y”. One of the key points in the race turned out to be an epic, unprovoked on-air bitch slap, to use Josh Marshall’s terminology, that scared his opponent out of participating in debates (which actually turned local conservative media against his opponent).
Maybe that race was special in that it pitted an insane closeted gay sexual harasser (Massa) against an alcoholic shot-gun toting wife abuser (Randy Kuhl), but when it comes to the budget impasse, Democrats should remember that voters are already turned off by Republican overreach. If Republicans shut down the government next week, Democrats can find a way to make them pay politically.