It is a well-known adage that a dieter who weighs himself every day does not lose weight. Instead, stepping on the balance once a week is much more effective at keeping one on track with a diet plan.
In a similar vein, a politician who watches polls every day is unlikely to govern in a sufficiently effective manner to win re-election.
John Podhoretz' alarmist column "The Suicide of the Right" bases its argument solely, as far as I can see, on the American public's reaction to the shutdown. He writes:
"Every piece of evidence we have so far on the government shutdown shows the public is blaming Republicans most of all for the standoff. On Monday, an ABC poll showed 71 percent fault the GOP; 61 percent fault Congressional Democrats; 51 percent fault President Obama."
I think there are two points to make here. First, it is too early to fret. The shutdown is less than two weeks old and opinions will likely shift significantly as time goes by. Second, the difference between 71 percent and 61 percent is, in my view, minute for an opinion that is likely to be much more volatile than, say, a person's choice for President one week before the election. For our purposes -- and factoring in Obama's greater charismatic appeal -- you can call the poll a tie.
The Republicans lack a good messenger but the message itself is absolutely flawless. Here it is: Why are we here today? Mainly for one reason: The Democrats passed a large health care bill in 2010 without a single Republican vote. Blowback was inevitable. They ruined bipartisanship for years and are fully to blame for the current stalemate. Remember this and ignore the polls.