The Republicans really pounded their own approval ratings into the ground with their brinksmanship over the debt ceiling. Not only did they win a stinging rebuke from Standard & Poor and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernacke, but the Republican Party and the Republican leadership of Congress are now more unpopular than they’ve even been in Pew Research polling. And what did they accomplish in return for destroying their brand?

Well, they hurt the president’s reputation for being a leader who can get things done, they drove down his overall approval rating, they ramped up the perception that things are on the wrong track, they also hurt the Democrats’ reputation, they got our credit rating downgraded, they unnerved the markets, and they made the economy worse.

It’s as if they’re taking a bullet for the eventual Republican nominee, because they helped him/her at the expense of themselves, the economy, and the country.

It is within the Republicans power to obstruct and, by doing so, make the president look weak and ineffectual. That’s the path they’ve chosen. However, the collateral damage has been enormous and the voters seem to have noticed.

People now are much more likely to tell pollsters that they want to see the president take a confrontational tone with Republicans rather than cooperate with them. That plays right into Obama’s hands as he shifts to campaign mode.

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