POLITICS

White House On Government Shutdown: 'We Are Winning'

The standoff over the government shutdown is, obviously, a political affair, with each side hoping to extract enough pain that the other acquiesces. But part of effective politics is pretending (in a convincing fashion) that politics doesn't matter. So it's hard to see how this quote from an anonymous official inside the administration does the White House much good.

Said a senior administration official: "We are winning...It doesn't really matter to us" how long the shutdown lasts "because what matters is the end result."

Obviously, polling data would support this contention and certainly, from the conversations I've had with senior administration officials, the White House feels that it has the upper hand. But to say you don't care how long the shutdown lasts is to suggest that the impact it's having throughout the country isn't factoring into your strategic thinking. And that's not exactly the impression you want to leave.

UPDATE (11:00 a.m. ET): White House Press Secretary Jay Carney addressed the quote Friday morning on Twitter, disavowing the comment.

UPDATE (11:30 a.m. ET) Despite Carney's disavowal, House GOP leadership jumped all over the anonymous administration official quote, with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) holding up a copy of the Wall Street Journal article during a press briefing Friday morning.

"This isn't some damn game," he declared.

UPDATE (2:25 p.m. ET) While ordering lunch at a local sandwich shop steps from the White House, President Barack Obama addressed the "winning" remark.

"There's no winning when families don't have certainty about getting paid or not," Obama said.

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2013 Government Shutdown