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Worst week in Washington: Rep. Marlin Stutzman

A rule of politics: Never pick a political fight when you (a) aren’t sure you can win and (b) don’t have any idea what winning looks like.

House Republicans broke that rule when they refused to budge on their demand that any measure to fund the government beyond Sept. 30 be linked with a proposal to either delay or defund President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

Polling both before and after the shutdown began showed that more people blamed Republicans than Obama for the shuttering of the government, and it became abundantly clear this past week that the GOP couldn’t really explain how it could win this standoff.

Just ask Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd. “We’re not going to be disrespected,” Stutzman told David Drucker of the Washington Examiner. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Riiiight. (Dr. Evil voice.) Democrats, believing that Stutzman had encapsulated everything wrong with the Republican logic regarding the shutdown, pounced on the remark.

Obama went on a lengthy riff on Stutzman’s comments during a speech in Maryland on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered a mock apology for “disrespecting” the Indiana Republican and had the quote blown up on a poster next to him at a news conference that day.

This is Washington, so, naturally, Stutzman sought to clarify his remarks.

“Yesterday, I carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate and Speaker (John) Boehner’s work on behalf of the American people,” he said.

Too late.

Marlin Stutzman, for becoming the shutdown’s poster boy, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Chris Cillizza writes The Fix for washingtonpost.com.

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