Who Will Blink in Budget Showdown?

Ultimately, we are going to see a clear winner and a clear loser at the end of this. Someone is going to have to cave completely for the government to be funded. Obama knows he would be more than a lame duck if he gives in and delays Obamacare. He'd be a dead duck -- an emasculated president whose own party would abandon him. Boehner probably realizes his days as speaker would be numbered if he advocates passing the CR without an Obamacare rider.

The irresistible force has met the immovable object -- hence, the shutdown. With the stakes for yielding to the demands of the other side so high, it's hard to see a quick or easy solution.

Both sides believe the other has underestimated their determination to get their way. Both sides believe the other will eventually come around and be forced to accede to their demands.

Senator Tom Coburn thinks he has a realistic scenario of how the debate will play out:

“The only time you shut down the government is when you shut it down and refuse to open it until you accomplish what you want. But we’ll fold like hotcakes,” Coburn told reporters. “You do not take a hostage you are not going to for sure shoot. And we will not for sure shoot this hostage.”

Coburn has been a fierce critic of the Cruz strategy, so you can take his prediction any way you wish. But he's right in a tactical sense. Unless the GOP is willing to shut down the government for a very long time, inflicting pain on the American people and probably the economy, they will be pressured into folding after a few days.

And the hell of it is, the hard right wing in the House that has been pushing this futile strategy are not going to be blamed for the cave-in. It will be those who are deemed insufficiently supportive of a cause that never had a chance to succeed who will probably suffer the consequences.