Ponnuru spoke with the anonymous Senator who voted to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling. This member of Congress bemoaned the hard turn to the political right taken by his party.
When your party doesn’t hold the White House, he says, “You should do your best to find fights you can win.” And when you have to fight losing battles, make sure that your allies know that’s what you’re doing. A lot of conservatives, he thinks, were misled about what a partial government shutdown could achieve.
The questions that his colleagues need to ask themselves, the senator says, are “What have we learned?” and “How do we not repeat this?” Most Republican senators, it seems to me, emerged from the shutdown fight with the same views they had going in. Those who thought it was a mistake found confirmation of their views in the party’s sagging poll numbers and lack of accomplishments; those who favored it thought it could have worked if the skeptics hadn’t sabotaged it.