I was thinking of the old phrase "war is politics by other means" in relation to current Republican politics. There are times where the more belligerent Tea Party types are on the verge of seeing politics as war by other means, with certain breeds of leftists (Malcolm X's "by any means necessary" comes to mind) ready to return serve.
That begged a quick Google to check on the father of that quote, which is Carl von Clausewitz. "War is simply the continuation of political intercourse with the addition of other means" is the longer version of that.
Serious students of geopolitics and military theory will know more about Clausewitz than I do, so I'm not in position to delve too deeply here. However, some of what I read in his Wikipedia actually starts to apply to the battle of wills between the parties in Washington. This line stuck with me as I read-
Clausewitz saw military force as an instrument that states and other political actors use to pursue the ends of policy, in a dialectic between opposing wills, each with the aim of imposing his policies and will upon his enemy.
The threat of a budget impasse shutting down government is a political weapon in this contact. It can turn into battle of wills to see which side will "blink" first and give in. In the meantime, the collateral damage of a non-functioning government (or at least parts of it, since time-critical "essential" players aren't laid off) wears on both sides until one (or both) camp gives and an agreement is reached. Some working agreement will wind up being reached in all but the most dysfunctional cases.
Another thing that caught my eye is this-"Clausewitz's emphasis on the inherent superiority of the defense suggests that habitual aggressors are likely to end up as failures." If one side is defending the status quo and the other is trying to change it, the side on defense is in a stronger position. That, unfortunately, puts conservatives at a disadvantage, since cutting unwelcome parts of the budget lets liberals play defense; warping normal lingo, liberals conserve a big-government status quo and conservatives seek change.
At some point, a political version of Just War theory seems to fit.
(1) Can you win? If the answer is no, what is the point of trying? Hurting folks just to make a political point doesn't seem all that good, unless waking up the polity on that issue is worth the pain.
(2) Does the battle change anything? If not, then you're fighting for the sake of fighting.
(3) Is the result worth the damage caused by the combat? If not, then the combat isn't worth doing.
Another line is worth noting-"War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will." If you're unlikely to win that battle of wills, then the battle is very short-sighted and ill-advised if there is significant damage done in the battle.
Laws get passed two ways. Either you get both houses of Congress and the President to agree or you get two-thirds of both houses to give the President a middle-digit salute.
In the current setting, who will lose a battle of wills? The President? Enough congressional Democrats to get to a veto override? Or enough moderate Republicans to create a center-left coalition to get a bill passed?
The reality at this point is that it's the third option. Moderate Republicans will be the ones to bow to the sausage-making realities and work out a deal with the White House. There are some issues where the second option is feasible, as was the case with the Iran nuke deal; even there, the number of Democrats willing to buck the President wasn't enough to carry the day.
For the next 15 months, Obama has that fortified defense position called the presidency. Pickett's Charge should be left to reenactors and not lived out in Washington.
At the risk of casting conservatives as the Confederates, the Lost Cause is only lost for now, as there is an exit ramp off the expressway to serfdom coming up next November. Thus, some grace should be extended to the wurstmeisters like Boehner and (if he gets talked into it) Ryan who have to herd GOP cats and keeping things muddling through until then.