The government shutdown was covered as a dramatic showdown between Republicans and Democrats, but once it was resolved, much of the political media conceded that the outcome was predictable and there were signs even before Monday’s vote to reopen the government that Republicans and President Trump were likely headed for a victory.
After just two days of the government being partially shutdown, Senate Democrats agreed to pass a short-term funding bill after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Republicans promised to take up immigration legislation next.
“I doubted it was possible, but Dems have actually lost a shutdown fight,” tweeted Fox News political analyst Brit Hume. “Schumer has agreed to end the filibuster in exchange for practically nothing. Make no mistake: Schumer & Dems caved. What a political fiasco.”
I doubted it was possible, but Dems have actually lost a shutdown fight. Schumer has agreed to end the filibuster in exchange for practically nothing. Make no mistake: Schumer & Dems caved. What a political fiasco.— Brit Hume (@brithume) January 22, 2018
Sam Stein, a political reporter for the Daily Beast, tweeted that it “was fairly predictable that Dems would get rolled. They didn’t have a much of a bargaining position.”
And Washington Post White House reporter Josh Dawsey remarked, “Let the fierce spinning begin, but it certainly seems Republicans are a lot happier about this outcome than Democrats.”
The shutdown was driven by Democrats who said they would not vote for a government-funding bill unless it also included legislation that would offer protections for so-called “Dreamers,” young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Republicans and Trump argued that Democrats were being unreasonable by trying to attach an unrelated issue, immigration, to a bill that was simply meant to keep the federal government running. Even some liberals in the media suggested that it was a losing position for Democrats.
“So, on this government shutdown, morally, Democrats hold the higher ground,” New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote. “But politics is seen through different lenses depending on where you sit. Trump’s team is now casting the shutdown as Democratic obstruction, which for some will resonate. It will be harder for Democrats to make their moral case the longer the shutdown stays in effect.”
His colleague, David Leonhardt, also a liberal, said immigration is an issue that helps Trump, saying Democrats were taking it up at their own political peril.
“A culture war over immigration replays the racialized debate that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign,” he wrote. “As much as it saddens me to say it, the evidence is pretty clear that a racialized debate helps Trump. It’s the kind of debate that will make it harder for Democrats to retake the Senate and House this year.”
On CNN, the network’s political director David Chalian on Monday said Democrats were likely going to harm their prospects heading into the midterm elections.
“Where is the Democratic Party right now in an election year?” he said just shortly before the Senate held its vote. “With all the enthusiasm on their side … So Democratic leaders, they don’t want to do anything that’s going to dampen that enthusiasm in the Democratic base, and just going along here may have done that. So they’ve shown the fight. But now if senators are moving [toward a vote to reopen the government], you know that there’s a growing census inside the Democratic caucus that this isn’t necessarily working for them for a prolonged fight.”