One reason this column was wary of congressional Republicans' government-shutdown strategy against ObamaCare is that it seemed unlikely to succeed. ObamaCare is unpopular, but so are government shutdowns, and both the president (for structural reasons) and the Democrats (for ideological ones) would appear to have a natural advantage in such a confrontation. Hence the Democrats' "victory" in the last two shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996.
It may still turn out that way, but we've been surprised this week at the Democrats' tactical maladroitness. As Josh Jordan quipped yesterday on Twitter: "Since the shutdown began, Obama and Reid have taken tough stands against the two most villainous groups: WWII veterans and kids with cancer."
The reference, of course, is to the closing of the WWII Memorial in D.C., and Harry Reid's infamous (and stupid) response to a question from a reporter about saving kids with cancer by keeping funding for the National Institutes of Health by saying, "Why would we want to do that?"
Well, I'm not sure there's such a thing as "winning" when you see a superpower in decline going through massive governmental dysfunctionality like this. But, at least in the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, things aren't looking so good for the Democrats' strategy:
Polls like this are volatile, so you have to take them with a grain of salt. But Obama sure looks to have taken a big hit in the first week of the government shutdown... a drop of 8 points in "strong approval/strong disapproval." (It should also be noted that this is the first week of the Obamacare fiasco, which is certainly injuring the Obama brand every time someone is frustrated with the healthcare.gov website.)