Rep. Steve Stockman Is Not Playing Along With House Republicans' Shutdown Message

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 23 2013 11:05 AM

Republican Congressman Argues That the 1996 Shutdown "Boosted" Republicans

167681729
Newt Gingrich agrees Republicans won the 1995-'96 government shutdown battle.

Photo by CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images

The official Republican party line on the continuing resolution is that Nobody Wants a Shutdown Except for the Democrats. As members of Congress talk to voters in their districts (they're not back at work until tomorrow), as their offices blast out press releases, they repeat this line like a mantra. "I don't know a single Republican that wants a government shutdown," says Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks. "There are no winners in a government shutdown," says California Rep. Buck McKeon.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Unfortunately for message-focused Republicans, Texas Rep. Steve Stockman exists. Responding to some questions on Twitter, he argued that a shutdown might benefit the GOP, and that the official history of the 1995 shutdown was all wrong.

Advertisement

Stockman can say this because he's completely safe—his district gave 73 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney in 2012, 16 points better than Romney's overall Texas vote. Not too long ago, it was safe for other Republicans to say it. Around 2009 and 2010, many of them started to argue that the 1995 shutdown would have been winnable, had the party been confident enough to stare down Bill Clinton and the media. In 2010, when I asked Newt Gingrich whether the party should defund Obamacare (a fanciful idea at that point—well, still pretty fanciful, but this was before the party won the House), Gingrich stopped me and accused me of holding "the standard, elite, inside-the-Beltway worldview."

"Tell me in what way we didn't win," said Gingrich. "After that, we got to a balanced budget. And what happened to the Republican majority? ... We took a liberal Democratic president and stopped him in his tracks. We got on track for four years of balanced budgets. We had the slowest rate of increase [in spending] since Calvin Coolidge. And we re-elected a Republican Congress for the first time since 1928. Which of those is bad?"

Conservatives like to blame media bias, that reliable ol' piñata, when they're accused of being ready to shut down the government. Alternate theory: In their hearts, they really do think they would win a shutdown fight, and they're less inclined than Democrats to avoid it.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?