After a weekend of trying to imbibe as much as I could of the back-and-forthing over this latest Manufactured and Unnecessary Crisis—despite much better things to imbibe, like postseason baseball, football, or even hemlock—I shouted at no one in particular:

What the hell is this thing about, anyway?

I mean, is it Obamacare?

Or is it long-term debt?

One minute, the showboating Bazooka Ted and His Gang tried to hold up the bank and defund—or maybe just delay; or at the very least marginally fiddle with—Obamacare. Something! The “Vitter Amendment”! Anything! The next minute, we’re talking about a “grand bargain” again. An “epic battle” over spending. Doing something to save our grandchildren from runaway government debt.

If you want to win an epic battle, it’s probably a good thing to have a coherent idea of what you’re actually battling over.

Then, after all this imbibing and shouting, I came across the incomparable Erick Erickson, at the clearinghouse of unbridled idiocy known as RedState.com.

He starts out all cocksure: “Republicans are winning the shutdown fight, and Democrats know it.”

Ooooooh.

Later he asks the same question I just did: “do we want to stop Obamacare or do we want to stop the debt ceiling increase? My view is that we cannot do both at the same time.”

No kidding?

Thanks for the newsflash.

Erickson concludes that Republicans should direct their fire at Obamacare:

the only path to victory in this shutdown is to keep our fire on Obamacare and our focus on the defunding effort. We can still undermine Obamacare, but we need to resist the attempt to merge this with the debt limit and hold the line on the continuing resolution. Otherwise we will lose on both.

Right at the end there, the marbles in Erickson’s head rolled toward the truth: which is that Republicans are going to lose on both.

And they’re going to lose because they’ve blundered into an untenable position at the insistence of strategic blockheads like Erickson.

They have overplayed a weak hand, raising tensions to the point where the administration now sees this standoff in terms of a constitutional crisis, rather than fiscal haggling or healthcare.

Well done, tough guys!