Exclusive: Gov’t shutdown will help Obama politically, former Clinton aide says

By Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 8:41 EDT
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WASHINGTON – A former aide in the Clinton White House tells Raw Story the politics of a government shutdown will be good for President Barack Obama, and warns that the nature of today’s Republican caucus will make negotiations more difficult.

Progressive strategist Mike Lux served as Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison from 1993 to mid-1995. He witnessed first-hand the White House’s stand-off with the new Republican majority, which led to a partial government shutdown.

“It’s fascinating, because Republicans don’t control their own caucus unlike 1995,” Lux said in an interview Tuesday. “When you were negotiating with [then-Speaker] Newt [Gingrich] you were negotiating with the caucus. But [Speaker John] Boehner has no control whatsoever over the 87 freshmen or over other people who are worried about tea party primaries.”

“It makes it much harder to negotiate the deals, which I think raises the likelihood of shutdowns.”

The House on Tuesday afternoon approved 335-91 a stop-gap measure that would keep the government solvent through March 18. And though the Senate is likely to pass it soon, it’s possible the two sides won’t reach a budget deal in that time, bringing many government functions to a halt.

After the clash in 1995 and the ensuing government shutdown, public opinion swung notably in Clinton’s favor as most Americans blamed Gingrich for the fiasco.

“It just dramatically turned the whole frame of the conversation,” Lux said. “When government was shut down, people got reminded about the good things government did for them. The fact that they couldn’t go to the national parks or the museums, and the conversations about whether they would still get their Social Security checks.”

This time Republicans, haunted by those memories, are treading much more carefully. GOP lawmakers, like Obama and Democrats, have repeatedly emphasized they do not want a government shutdown, which would occur if the two sides cannot reach a deal by Friday.

A poll Tuesday found the public sharply divided on who would be to blame in that event.

The former Clinton aide, currently the CEO of the consulting firm Progressive Strategies, said he’s confident that Obama would benefit politically if a shutdown were to occur.

Politically, “their best course of action is to stand their ground,” he said, noting that a shutdown would “remind people of what they like about government” as he says it did in 1995. “Obama needs to show some strength here. Americans want a president who’s strong.”

At the time, were Clinton staffers positive it would work out well for them politically?

“No,” Lux said flatly, with a laugh. “Not at all. There was no certainty whatsoever how it would turn out.”

“In fact, there were some Clinton aides including Mark Penn and Dick Morris who were arguing that we should just cut a deal with the Republicans, split the difference, and everybody go home. They didn’t want a fight, they didn’t want a showdown. They thought we wouldn’t lose it.”

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  • Anonymous

    “Mark Penn and Dick Morris who were arguing that we should just cut a deal with the Republicans”.

    No surprise there. What’s particularly hilarious to me is watching all these neurotic white men scrambling about, by whatever means neccessary, to make this skilled, talented, BLACK MAN look bad.

    And Barack just stands by, smiling and infinitely that much more likeable.

  • Guest

    Wow. how very fucking divisive. I have to come here to read posts like yours to be reminded there are still people in 2011 who are so fucking racist.


  • Anonymous


    Were you scarred by the truth? Poor, poor fragile teabagger…

  • Anonymous

    …….and you make the case again, why white people are so fucking dumb.

  • Guest

    Man, are you ever wrong about me. The same way you were wrong to post your pathetic post about black and white.

    Why is it people with an obviously limited amount of intelligence always turns to the teabaggers comments? Don’t teabaggers tend to be racist?

    Oh, yeah, I forgot… people who are racist are of limited intelligence incapable of reason and understanding.

    Americans are black and white and red, brown, yellow and whatever other colors I forgot. And writing posts like you have above shows your ignorance of that fact. If you were a true American from these United States, you wouldn’t write things that appealed to the smaller few and brought the weight of the majority against you. In other words, you would seek to unite us in a common accord… not divide us.

    So, it is not a stretch of the imagination that you have much to experience before you can call your self a human. I wish you luck. ;0)

  • Guest

    What would REALLY help Obama politically is for him starting to make good on some of his “promises” of CHANGE!

  • Anonymous

    Bless your tiny little heart, princess.

    LOOK! Something SHINEY!

  • Guest

    White… black… who cares. We are in a war. A war against the elected officials at the top of governance who want your freedom deleted.

    Talk about dumb. To ignore that fact just goes to show your inability to fight the good fight denny boy. ;0)

  • christoofar

    “…But he must not ‘capitulate’ to GOP, Rep. Woolsey warns”

    yeah well…good luck with that.

  • Anonymous

    Of course everyone here is wrong but you, right?

    Bless your heart…

  • Anonymous

    If he prosecuted the war criminals of the previous administration as well, pretty doubtful!
    I didn’t vote for him the first go round, and in no way will I in 2012, if he decided to prosecute those chumps I’d consider it.

  • Anonymous

    We are at war against greedy corporate scum more that anything, the elected officials are just their whores.

    If you can’t smell the rotting stench of plutocracy then you’ve lost all senses and have no common sense.

  • Guest

    Whatever. The people in office ARE the plutocracy put there BY the plutocracy. One and the same. You can’t fight the plutocracy by going after the corporations. Like I said to denny boy, if you don’t know where to put your energy you WILL get your ass kicked up and down main street Sir Neoconhater.

    If you’ve read any of my other posts, and I know you have, you would know I am familiar with the filth that invades the halls of the capitol. Perhaps you have a memory problem.

  • Sunshine1970

    Ooooh! GOP! Do it! Do it! Shut down the government!! Please! I dare you! The rest of the country will look at you as morons! And that will make me happy!

  • Anonymous

    No memory problems for me you schmuck.
    Piss off.

  • Guest

    Exactly what do you take issue with my last post? What did I say that upset you so much.

    Instead, why don’t you tell me how you really feel. And try to stay on subject.

  • Anonymous

    The tea baggers own the repub party. Bring it on!

  • Anonymous

    Ain’t that the truth. The O-Man is 20 steps ahead of these guys before they even wake up in the morning. How refreshing!!

  • Anonymous

    Me too!

  • Anonymous

    No not scared. Just embarrassed and disgusted that folks like you walk among us. Too many folks are letting their racial hate clould all their brain power.

    Anyone who is not rich (billionaire) and votes for the repubs is a total fool!

  • Anonymous

    I’m white and I have to agree!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Zentrails/100001475536421 Bob Zentrails

    Nothing like a comments section filled with a pissing match between two nit wits.

    What makes this budget shut-down threat far more interesting than in 1995, is the fact that the Repubs are fighting amongst themselves just as much as they are fighting Obama.

  • Realbluesky

    I think it is silly to even suggest that Obama would allow a government shut-down based upon his history of caving in to every demand by the republicans. In December he clearly elaborated on his method of negotiation, if the hostage may get hurt, then you have to give in. Didn’t anyone else hear him say that? Maybe not those EXACT words, but very similar. The meaning is the same. So, it’s no longer a matter of consideration, if you’re counting on obama to stand up for progressive principles, you might not want to hold your breath.

  • Anonymous

    You are forgetting that the Tea Tards and lots of nutjobs in this country blame bad weather on Obama.
    So it may not go as it did in 1995.
    Different political climate today.
    Republicans were after Clinton with all kinds of lies and baloney but it’s many times worse now against Obama.
    But the Resmuglicans and the Tea Tards have plenty of opportunities to trip over their weeenies. Wisconsin is just 1 of many to explode in their faces.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Zentrails/100001475536421 Bob Zentrails

    Go away Koch Bros paid clown fake poster.

  • Realbluesky

    Whassa matter Bob, you having trouble with the facts? Perhaps you did not hear obama say that. I can do some research and get you the source if you like. But I doubt that you are interested in truth. If the Koch Brothers would pay me for speaking the truth, then that would be fine, but they don’t want truth, just like you.

  • Anonymous

    I was basically going to say the same thing, but pointing out Obama’s skin color. Different times.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    The politicos play a game of who/how can we screw the people. He who screws better and bigger wins.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Prosecute you said? Ha ha! Look at what the Demoplican just cooked up. You gotta give it to the guy, he is brilliant. For anyone who still thinks that this guy wasn’t hand picked and groomed for to perfection for the part.

    US shields foreign mercenaries in Libya to protect Bush officials


  • Johnny Warbucks

    I couldn’t agree more. The only thing he may do (may being the operative word) is give the appearance of resisting. I’m not sold out on that. Besides, he’s got much bigger fish to fry like crafting the invasion of Libya.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Poor Bob, having trouble with the fact (any and all) is a state of “mind” for him. He’s also a Demorat apologist. Them critters are just as good their counterparts, the Republicon apologists. Just as dumb too.

  • Anonymous

    You thought you had an ally.


  • Guest

    That’s right Johnny. repub… dem… it don’t make a damn bit of difference.

  • Guest

    Another one out of the park!!!