BEDFORD: One month after the shutdown ended, Lee and Cruz are sitting pretty

Christopher Bedford Former Editor in Chief, The Daily Caller News Foundation
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It’s Nov. 16, 2013, and the partial government shutdown ended one month ago today.

In those four weeks, and the two prior, everything conservatives said would happen has happened. What’s more, the Democrats’ united stand against them has turned into a retreat — and is primed to become a rout — as they amend Obamacare’s disastrous rollout, President Barack Obama apologizes for his failures, and electorally vulnerable Democrats break ranks and flee.

Hell, even the polls that D.C.’s Republican pundits shrieked, wept and clawed over show the Grand Old Party has bounced back while the Democrats have fallen behind. Because, in the end, real people simply weren’t affected by the shutdown, so they won’t vote on it — a distinction Obamacare does not share.

It’s clear now that the whole shutdown thing could have been avoided if Mr. Obama had been willing to bend on his signature health-care law — something reality has since forced him to do, and something he will likely have to continue to do — instead of accusing the Republicans of being “terrorists” who are holding the country captive.

And rather than crashing, as the president predicted, the private sector survived just fine without government. Obama’s specific prediction — “I mean whatever effect Obamacare might have on the economy is far less than even a few days of government shutdown” — turned out to be precisely wrong. (VIDEO: It’s been two weeks and still no apocalypse, you guys)

Finally, the events of the last month have shown that Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee were correct to make a final stand against the law, and it’s really the president and his policies that are terrorizing the country. (RELATED: How Cruz, Lee and Paul shut down Obama’s agenda)

Because since Obamacare has come into effect, millions have seen their health-care plans cancelled; enrollment numbers have lagged 80 percent behind the White House’s predictions; every facet of the sign-up process has failed to deliver; and some of the very “navigators” who are supposed to make all that easier have been exposed as criminals.

And for the two weeks that preceded this debacle, the story is one of Republicans fighting with everything they had to save the country from what they saw coming.

True, there’s no doubt that the shutdown fight did not go the way Messrs. Lee and Cruz had hoped, and they took a beating in the polls. True, there was little chance the fight could have gone any other way. They were outgunned and outnumbered. But they set the stage for the coming fight by drawing bold lines.

If there was any remaining doubt in the American electorate that what was to come was anybody’s fault but the Democrats — or that conservatives hadn’t done all they could to stop it — those doubts were wiped away. Besides, people remember the Alamo — not the Siege of Béxar.

“The Republican Party’s favorable ratings fell substantially in most every national survey that uses this yard stick, declining to 28 percent in the Gallup poll at one point,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 7. “Yet when the GOP was matched up against the Democrats on key political measures, it did not look so bad.”

A Pew Research poll cited by the Journal and taken on Oct. 15 — the height of the shutdown “crisis” — showed that respondents judged Republicans “better able to deal with the economy” 44 percent to 37 percent, and “better able to manage the government” 42 to 39 percent. Just 11 months before, Pew’s results had Democrats “better able to manage the government” by 45 to 36 percent. Not bad, for the end of the world.

Additionally, a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed the Republicans hadn’t suffered any lasting damage for their stand against Obamacare: Voters are split 39 to 39 percent on which party they’d support in a congressional election today — a nine-point slide from the day the shutdown began, when Democrats were ahead 43 to 34 percent. And in that poll, Republicans won on independents, 37 to 26 percent.

But there is someone who has taken a lot of heat for the law, and that’s the president, who on Friday had an average approval rating of 41.5 percent.

It “isn’t a perfect relationship, but presidential job approval is still the most important variable for how his party fares in midterm elections,” Real Clear Politics reported on Friday.

“The best midterm showing for the party of a president with a sub-45 percent job approval came in 1950,” the article continues, “when the Democrats lost 11 percent of their caucus.”

Throughout September and October, Americans were forced to suffer the pundit class predicting doom for fractured Republicans and lamenting the Democrats’ united front. On Thursday, we saw Mr. Obama admit to failure, and apologize to the American people. On Friday, we saw 39 House Democrats vote for a Republican Obamacare bill the president has threatened to veto.

This isn’t to suggest that Messrs. Lee and Cruz get the credit for the Democrats’ Obamacare debacle — they took a bold public stand, but they don’t. But we dare suggest one thing: that Republican pundits come out from hiding underneath their covers, change their bed sheets, and not play Chicken Little again. It’s unbecoming. And it’s stupid.

And it just isn’t so.

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