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Surrender or suicide

Despite unhappiness with the sequester-level spending of the current continuing budget resolution, there was a great deal for Democrats to cheer last week: the reopening of government, the GOP’s polling collapse and the righteous smackdown of the nihilists in the Tea Party. Best of all, liberals now get a front-row seat to a glorious internecine war between the “surrender caucus” and the “suicide caucus,” collectively known as the Republican Party.

“We’re not going to go through the shutdown again. People have been too traumatized by it. There’s too much damage,” said Arizona Sen. John McCain of Team Surrender, even as Team Suicide’s top general shrugged off that notion. “The American people rose up and spoke with an overwhelming voice and, at least at this stage, Washington isn’t listening to them,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, while willfully ignoring every single poll released in the last month. “But this battle will continue.”

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For every Team Surrender Republican like Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who is saying things like, “If we continue down this path, we are really going to hurt the Republican Party long term,” there is a Team Suicide Republican shooting back, like Rep. Raúl Labrador arguing that “If anybody should be kicked out [of the party], it’s probably those Republicans — and not Speaker [John] Boehner — who are unwilling to keep the promises they made to American people.”

Allied organizations have chosen their side in this struggle. “[Members of the Republican establishment] still wanna control things from the top down, and if they do that, there will absolutely be a split,” said FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe, throwing in with the Suicide Caucus. “My prediction would be that we take over the Republican Party and they go the way of the Whigs.”

But the Surrender Caucus has its own bigwigs. “We are going to get engaged,” said Scott Reed, a senior strategist for the Chamber of Commerce. “The need is now more than ever to elect people who understand the free market and not silliness.”

Of course, you can’t have a good war without trash-talking, so there was Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) calling the Suicide Caucus “lemmings with suicide vests” (good one!), while Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) countered with, “I would say the Surrender Caucus is the whiner caucus, and all they do is whine about the battle” (not so good).

Like any good civil war, conspiracies abound. “Barack Obama set the trap. Some congressional Republicans walked into it. As a result, the president is stronger, the GOP is weaker, and ObamaCare is marginally more popular,” said Surrender Caucus éminence grise Karl Rove. Unfortunately, Rove’s theory is as fanciful as his election-night notion that Ohio was still too close to call — Obama’s trap was to repeatedly ask Republicans to pass clean budget bills knowing that Republicans would crash and burn?

But the Suicide Caucus has its own conspiracies. “You will not even see Republicans hold the line on ensuring Obamacare go into effect as designed,” wrote Fox News contributor Erick Erickson. “[T]he GOP intends to fully fund Obamacare and let Barack Obama have all the power to exempt his friends and delay portions for patrons of his campaign.” If only!

So who will come out ahead? Who cares! “It’s civil war in the GOP,” as conservative icon Richard Viguerie said. A party divided against itself cannot stand. And given the current state of opinion polls, there are few left who care.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos.