MADDOW: They have a different sense of what is normal. They have a different sense of what counts as reasonable politics in America -- and failing to appreciate that, means that we fail to develop reasonably accurate expectations for their behavior. And that has become really important.
That failure to appreciate helps explain why the shutdown to defund a three-year-old health care law remains so perplexing to most outside observers. Viewed through the prism of traditional partisan politics, it doesn't make any sense. It's a shutdown about nothing. It's a shutdown devoid of content or purpose. (Defunding was never a realistic outcome.) It's certainly a shutdown that was executed without any clear goals by Republicans, or anything that even resembled an endgame strategy.
The extraordinary shutdown maneuver, based upon unprecedented demands, only begins to make sense when the truly extremist nature of the GOP'S activist base is taken into account. It's a rabid base where blowing through the nation's debt ceiling, and plunging the global economy into chaos, is considered a justifiable consequence to brinkmanship. Yet at the same time, it's a group where loud voices claim Obama can be impeached for defaulting on the national debt - and for raising the debt limit.