As we approach another possible government shutdown it's time, my fellow Republicans, for some historical review: The year1995 was not a good one for the Republican Party, and 1996 was even worse. The reason? The 1995 budget showdown and the resulting government shutdown. That history making moment pushed President Clinton's approval ratings to levels of popularity he could not have dreamed of in 1994.
As this week comes to an end, the Republicans have to take a long look at whether it is politically worth it to shut the government down and give President Obama a chance to repeat President Clinton’s good fortune. Republicans cannot allow the gains of 2010 to be wasted in 2011 and 2012 the way the sweeping victory the GOP enjoyed in 1994 was squandered following a severe decline in popularity in 1995 and losses in 1996.
I believe that by instituting a government shutdown, the GOP risks providing President Obama with a platform and stature that he does not currently enjoy. That risk -- alone -- makes a government shutdown unjustified.
In 1995 the newly elected Republican majority led by Newt Gingrich forced the federal government to stop operating as part of a battle with then largely unpopular President Clinton. During the government shutdown, President Clinton’s popularity did what few thought was possible, it waned even more.
However, once the inevitable resolution was reached, President Clinton quickly attained peak approval ratings which carried him to an easy victory in 1996 leaving Bob Dole, the GOP and the budget battles far behind him. President Clinton was seen by the country as the definitive winner of the struggle in 1995. He appeared to the electorate to be exactly the opposite of the person Republicans wanted people to believe he was. In short, he appeared decisive and presidential.
Contrary to popular belief in some Washington circles the federal government is absolutely necessary to the smooth running of our country; no budget related government shutdown can last forever.
If the Republican Congress decides to shut down the government again at the end of this week, it is an absolute certainty that an agreement will be made and a resolution reached at some future date. A further certainty is that President Obama will be in the middle of any resolution and will use that position to his benefit in his already declared run for reelection.
The political downside of shutting down the government for the Republicans is too great, especially considering that it is virtually impossible to attain all the budget goals the party has put forward. In short,there will have to be a compromise one way or another.
It is much more prudent and realistic to avoid a shutdown and not allow the president the opportunity to make the GOP seem obstructionist and uncooperative. Instead, the GOP can continue to let this president self-destruct as a result of his indecision and inability to stand firm on the issues – see the recent flip flopping on terrorist trials in Guantanamo Bay.
The best way to prevent 2012 from repeating 1996 is to not let the 2011 budget tug of war repeat the script of 1995.
Boris Epshteyn is a political strategist, attorney and business consultant in New York City. He served as a communications aide on the 2008 McCain-Palin presidential campaign. He is a frequent guest on "FoxNews.com Live." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.