Although the mainstream media has largely covered the government shutdown as a heightened case of typical Washington gridlock, President Obama was much closer to the truth when he described it as the doing of "one faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government."
But in truth, even Obama didn't go quite far enough. While it's the case that Tea Party intransigence is to blame for the shutdown, it would be a mistake to conclude that this was the unforeseen consequence of a series of separate tactical maneuvers. As Rachel Maddow has reported, the reality is that a government shutdown has long been seen by Replublicans as a useful tool for extracting concessions from Democrats.
Sometimes the goal was big spending cuts. Other times it was to roll back Obamacare. Whatever the desired result, the chosen weapon was the same: a government shutdown, the first in 17 years.