Someone Please Listen to Ramesh Ponnuru

Comme d’habitude, he makes a lot of sense:

Newt Gingrich is telling Republicans not to fear a government shutdown because the last one went so well for them. This is pure revisionist history, and they would be fools to believe him.

Some Republicans are urging the party to refuse to back any legislation to keep the government operating unless funding for President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul is stopped. Other Republicans say this tactic will fail, citing the conventional wisdom that the government shutdowns of 1995-96 helped President Bill Clinton and hurt congressional Republicans.

The former speaker of the House is off message, or rather is revealing a contradiction in the political strategy of his current allies. Their public line is that any shutdown would be the unfortunate product of Democrats’ obstinate refusal to give in to the Republican demand to defund Obamacare. But it’s not easy to convey that message when prominent Republicans are saying that shutdowns are good for their party.

More important, Gingrich’s current spin on the events of 1995-96 is just wrong. The election of a Republican Congress in 1994 put government spending on a lower trajectory, as the election of a Republican House did again in 2010. Whether the shutdowns contributed to that result is a different matter.

The irony, of course, is that Gingrich is a historian by training–as he so often reminds us. I can get better history lessons from a coffee table, and for that matter, so can the current batch of congressional Republicans.