Case in point, the current surprise flare up around the government shut down. Unlike the fight around debt ceiling or the previous fight around gov shut down last spring, the R leadership did not intend to make the continuing resolution a flash point to further showcase the internal GoP rivalries and continue to promote voter disgust. But it happened anyway.
House leadership could have avoided the fight by passing a continuing resolution (CR) that would have brought a chunk of Ds (probably at the cost of more Rs) by exempting FEMA from pay-go (the "pay as you go" rule that requires any new expenditure be offset by matching cuts or revenue increases) or finding some less popular (with Ds) programs to cut (like, say, agriculture subsidies). Instead, confronted by a rebellious set of Tea Party death-to-governmenters unwilling to let any opportunity for steeper cuts go by, the leadership opted to appease their own members (and base) by passing a bill with cuts so deep even the usual anti-spending Ds in the Senate won't touch it.
Deja vu all over again. Kinda like the Red Sox right now.