The Charge of the Defund Brigade

The failed Cruz-Lee-Heritage strategy may cost Republicans the Virginia governor’s race.

“Forward the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!” he said. Into the Valley of Death, Rode the 600. –Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

On an October morning in the Crimea, 1854, British Lord Cardigan led his 600-strong cavalry force into a frontal assault of a fully dug-in and alerted Russian artillery battery. The charge was courageous. And it was suicidal.

The Light Brigade was ripped apart in the Valley of Death. Commenting on the bravery and utter futility of the attack, French Marshal Pierre Bosquet declared: “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre. C’est de la folie.” (“It is magnificent, but it is not war. It is folly.”)

The Republican Party is in a disorderly retreat from its own Valley of Death, having been led there by Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, flanked by drummers Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, Senate Conservatives Fund, and Club for Growth. Their cause was just, their charge courageous. And it was utterly suicidal. They were mowed down by a Democratic Party that was dug in, fully alerted and had every advantage.

Conservatives are now left to survey the carnage. And where to begin? The generals chose to turn their Defund ObamaCare operation into a litmus test of party purity, browbeating Republicans into issuing the one threat that Democrats understood was no threat at all: a government shutdown.

Mr. Obama and his team spent two weeks gleefully shelling Republicans for the government furloughs, the risk to the economy, their own confusion. The shutdown did unite one side: the Democratic Party, which hardened its resolve to do whatever necessary to protect the president’s signature initiative.

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