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“You misheard us. We said we were going to cover tens of people.”

The budget shutdown marked a turning point in intra-Republican politics. Heretofore the leaders in both rancor and self-regard tended to be incumbent old bulls (if the national helium reserve ever gets low, it can always tap John McCain). That is no longer the case. The strict defunders went in with no realistic plan and won nothing of substance (see editorial, p. 13). But their worst offense was to consign any Republican who disagreed with them to the surrender caucus. The spite goes on: Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is being primaried, as if he were Lowell Weicker. The fight to undo Obamacare is vital. Even more so were the issues that gave birth to the GOP: slavery, and slaveholders’ threats to secede. The infant party was even more rancorous, as former abolitionists, Whigs, and Democrats, hacks and purists, New Englanders and Missourians snarled and gouged one another’s eyes. The first Republican president won election and reelection by keeping all these bears together in one cage. All who aspire to sit where he sat will do so only by learning to do likewise.

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