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

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 Slate political reporter. 

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.


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 Slate political reporter. 


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 3:19 PM In Defense of Congress Leaving Town Without a New War Vote
Business Insider
Sept. 18 2014 3:31 PM What Europe Would Look Like If All the Separatist Movements Got Their Way
Sept. 18 2014 3:24 PM Symantec Removes Its “Sexual Orientation” Filter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Sept. 18 2014 4:00 PM When The Cosby Show Got “Very Special” Why were The Cosby Show’s Very Special Episodes so much better than every other ’80s sitcom’s?
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 2:39 PM Here's How to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.