One reason Senate Democrats now seem eager to negotiate spending cuts and avoid a government shutdown is that they may realize that it won’t benefit their party as much as just such a shutdown did in 1995.
Over at the Washington Examiner, while saying “Republicans shouldn’t seek a shutdown,” Byron York also believes “they shouldn’t fear one, either”. Among other things, he contrasts the fiscal and media situation then and now. Voters in 1995 were not as concerned with government spending as they are now. And “today’s media environment is substantially different”:
“In ’95 there was no Internet, no bloggers, no Facebook, no Fox News,” says Dick Armey, who was House majority leader during the shutdown. “The discourse of politics today is carried out in a media world that didn’t exist in 1995.” That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be negative coverage of Republicans if a shutdown occurs, just that the overall media picture would be more balanced.
Finally, he notes that Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton. The incumbent seems far more “disengaged and aloof” than his predecessor, with the Arkansan more willing to show himself engaged in the process of the presidency, i.e., by rolling up his sleeves and working with his ideological adversaries.
York leaves one thing out: John Boehner is no Newt Gingrich, less likely to vent his frustration at a Democratic president’s crass political games in front of a microphone. Recall when the Georgian made it appear the “Republican hard line was due, in part, to a ‘snub’ from President Clinton“, as if the government shutdown were the result of a personal pique, not a genuine concern for fiscal discipline.
Gingrich, as Jennifer Rubin put it in a recent post, is “unpredictable and undisciplined“. The Ohioan is quite the opposite. Try and they might, the Obama Democrats will never be able to demonize John Boehner, they way they demonized Gingrich. He just won’t give them enough rope.