"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." Harry S Truman
And it is staggering how much damage can be done when all anybody cares about is avoiding the blame.
If, by the time you read this, all or part of the federal government has gone into shutdown mode, it will be because a minority faction of the minority party pulled out every stop on the organ to try to prevent the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, from going into effect as scheduled.
The expectation that the Democrats who control the White House and the Senate would capitulate to the demands of a fringe faction by walking away from their most significant legislative achievement was never realistic. The idea that President Obama and his Democratic allies should have done so, thus making it clear that it could easily be rolled by any determined faction, was worse.
All the shutdown threats have ever stood to accomplish has been to boost the tea party bona fides of such obstructionists as Utah's Sen. Mike Lee and Texas' Sen. Ted Cruz.
As of Monday afternoon, the Republican-controlled House was continuing to insist that no continuing resolution funding the government past 12:01 a.m. today could contain any money for carrying out the functions of the ACA. Or, failing that, forcing a delay of the ACA's individual mandate the linchpin of the whole program for a year.
Neither of those steps makes any sense at all. And the idea that Obamacare is such a threat that it would be worth a government shutdown or, much worse, a refusal to raise the nation's debt ceiling later this month, borders on the insane.
It is not Obama and Democrats who are being stubborn and intransigent in this matter. The ACA was passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld by the Supreme Court. The presidential election of 2012 was largely a referendum on Obama's platform, including the ACA, and he won.
Even many Republicans, including former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and current Sens. Tom Coburn and Bob Corker, recognize the Lee-Cruz tactics to be both bad government and bad politics.
There is no honorable or respectable way to stop, delay or hobble Obamacare now. The only reasonable approach is to let the president do his level best to implement it, to see how close he can come to the unassailable goal of moving the United States within waving distance of the civilized world in terms of health care availability.
If he fails, the voters will have the opportunity to vote for candidates who have a better idea. If he succeeds, then all of us are ahead. Except for those who tried to stop the ACA now.