The NY Times Editorial Board:
Now Republicans Want a ‘Dialogue’: Republicans are now simply flailing. Because they lack any plausible explanation for their irresponsible conduct in creating and prolonging the government shutdown, they are inventing new demands by the hour.
“Defund Obamacare!” they cried at the beginning, stating their condition for reopening the government. Then they moved to delaying health care reform, delaying the individual mandate and repealing one of the health care law’s taxes. Then they started talking about another grand bargain on the budget, tax reform and entitlement cuts. When nothing worked, they simplified their ransom note, saying President Obama and the Democrats had to sit down with them and negotiate something, or anything.
“All we’re asking for is to sit down and have a discussion,” Speaker John Boehner said Friday... Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, put it even more broadly, asking for the beginning of a “dialogue.” The real goal of these demands, however, is not an agreement but instead the perception that it is Mr. Obama who is being intransigent, not the House.
The variety of demands at the news conference demonstrated the incoherence of the Republican message, which is now more about saving face than about any specific policy change. ...
A “dialogue,” now? With 800,000 federal employees furloughed, vital government services cut off and the economy slowing? This is a moment for immediate action to reopen government’s doors, not the beginning of a conversation that Republicans spurned when they lacked the leverage of a shutdown. ...
Kevin Drum says:
So Republicans have settled on their messaging, and it's this: Democrats are refusing to negotiate. We keep offering compromise after compromise, but Democrats won't listen to any of them.
Will this work? ... I suppose it has a chance. But it certainly shows a considerable contempt for the intelligence of the voting public. After six months of (a) refusing to meet with Senate Democrats to discuss the budget and (b) gleefully telling anyone who would listen that the shutdown and/or debt ceiling would be their ultimate leverage to force President Obama to agree to their laundry list of demands, you'd think it would be a hopeless task to pretend it was Democrats who wanted this fight all along. Add to that the fact that Democrats have already given in completely to Republican demands on spending levels, and you'd think it would be flatly impossible to pretend that Democrats were the ones refusing to negotiate.
But you never know. The fact that this is a cynical ploy doesn't mean it won't work. ... [L]et's claim that it's really Democrats who are the intransigent zealots! And we'll do it by continually offering the same concession—i.e., nothing—in return for an ever-changing set of demands and pretending that this represents a sincere search for compromise. It's so crazy it could work!
Yes, it could work, particularly if the media -- despite the editorial above -- generally repeats the Republican talking points as though they have validity:
...remember, both sides are equally at fault. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to say under all circumstances?
If Democrats had, say, shut down the government over the Bush tax cut extension, do you think the reporting would have been different -- far more one-sided? I do.