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Shutdown showdown: The GOP's suicide squad

At the end of Monty Python's "The Life of Brian," the crucified hero appears on the verge of being rescued by members of the underground Judean People's Front, who rush in and chase off his tormenters. Proclaiming his team to be the Front's "Crack Suicide Squad," the leader shouts, "Attack!" At that point they all ritually kill themselves. As he crumples to the ground, the leader utters his final words, "That showed 'em, huh?"

Some Republicans in Washington are eagerly preparing to play out this scene as they charge forward with plans to shut down the government if Democrats — who control two of the federal government's three elected institutions — do not agree to defund Obamacare, their party's signature accomplishment of the Post-Clinton era.

The federal government will run out of money in a few weeks if Congress does not pass another continuing resolution to authorize ongoing spending. Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are trying to persuade House Republicans to pass a resolution that contains no money for Obamacare. They believe that, somehow, this will force Democrats into a terrible political choice: defund Obamacare or shut down the government.

This is magical thinking. As Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told The Weekly Standard, "Obamacare is falling of its own weight." The Cruz plan "will distract attention from Obamacare" and focus it on the government's inability to do things Americans want it to do. It also would fail to defund Obamacare.

After five years under His Pomposity's disastrous rule, Americans are hungry for leaders who can demonstrate a capacity for doing what Obama cannot: ably govern. If Republicans force a shutdown in a fit over Obamacare, they undo all of the political advantages Obama's ineptitude has fortuitously conferred upon them. Their political fortunes will fade as they mutter, "That showed 'em, huh?"

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