In any negotiation, it is inadvisable to make threats that aren't credible. Probably the only thing worse is to threaten actions that will end up helping the other side. Yet the Tea Party-affiliated House Republicans aren't simply making this very mistake with the government shutdown; they are gearing up to do it again, on a grander and more fatal scale, with the debt ceiling.
Much as Arthur Scargill, leader of the U.K.'s National Union of Mineworkers, did in the 1980s, the Tea Party today appears to have a political death wish. Scargill ended up giving Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher exactly what she wanted -- a protracted confrontation in which he came across as an extremist, eroding any popular support for the miners. Scargill got a great deal of national attention, but the miners ended up with very little, if anything. They had some legitimate grievances, but their attempt to force a democratic government into full capitulation didn't play well.