Dan writes, “I think the lesson from 1995 is that clear, consistent, aggressive, and sensible messaging is the key to winning the battle of public opinion attrition that would result from a shutdown.” If there’s a shutdown, Republicans had better hope that’s not true. Because it may not be possible for 242 congressmen to have a clear, consistent message in such a battle. Whichever Republican is the first to say that the party needs to end the shutdown will be the most famous Republican congressman in the country for a time. So will whichever Republican makes the dumbest comment about the fight. You write that Obama “needs to be better than John Boehner.” Not necessarily–he can pick another foil, and he will have many possible ones to choose from.
If Republicans prevail in a shutdown, then, it is less likely to be because of successful “messaging” than because the public is strongly predisposed to side with them on the issues.