The personal animus underlying the federal government shutdown spilled into view today in a sharp public exchange between House Speaker John Boehner and the White House.
At a morning press conference, Boehner rebuked the White House for a stunning quote in today's Wall Street Journal from an anonymous senior Obama administration official who asserted, "'We are winning… It doesn't really matter to us' how long the shutdown lasts 'because what matters is the end result.'"
"This isn't some damn game," Boehner snapped, referring to the Wall Street Journal article.
"The American people don't want their government shut down and neither do I," he said. "All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness -- reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare. It's as simple as that. But it all has to begin with a simple discussion."
President Obama has refused to negotiate with Republicans on any substantive issues until the GOP-led House passes a government funding measure with no strings attached, and raised the nation's debt limit without any other conditions.
Asked about the comments made to the Wall Street Journal, the White House pointed to a tweet from press secretary Jay Carney, who was responding to the suggestion on Twitter that the administration official's remark was worthy of "Worst Quote of the Shutdown" honors.
"We utterly disavow the idea WH doesn't care when it ends," Carney tweeted. "House should act now, no strings attached. #JustVote." Carney did not disavow the sentiment that the White House believes it is "winning."
Later, Carney responded directly to Boehner: "@SpeakerBoehner It's no game, Mr. Speaker. So why deny the House a vote on clean CR? Many R's will vote yes & govt will open."
With more than a dozen House Republicans open to passing a "clean CR" – a funding measure with no strings attached regarding Obamacare or other issues – there are ostensibly enough votes to pass it through the House. The Senate has already passed such a measure. But Boehner and a majority of Republicans are insistent that they use the process to extract concessions from the White House.
On Thursday, Republican backbencher Rep. Marlin Stutzman illustrated this view in another flash of brutal honesty.
"We're not going to be disrespected," Stutzman said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. "We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."
Stutzman quickly disavowed the quote.