The crux of it seems to be that President Obama is desperately trying to ensure the Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare") remains intact, because he sees it as his lasting legacy, just as Republicans are using this to maneuver themselves for 2016. It sucks about all the economic fallout that's resulting from all this, but then, we haven't exactly been in the best possible shape for a good number of years now.
What excites me is that aside from the economic frownie face, this is politics as you read about it in the history books. JFK wrote the whole of Profiles in Courage about this. (If you've never read it, consider it your 11/22/63 anniversary duty.) Who doesn't vaguely remember the one dude who beat the other dude right on the senate floor, and how batshit insane that was even for that time?
No, this is politicians doing what they do best. Voters naively believe that politicians are elected to perform a civic duty. No, politicians are elected so that they can make impressive speeches in front of each other. The same principals they espouse during their campaigns are the same things they talk about upholding while shaping new laws and whatnot. And they're so busy doing that, trying in vain to convince each other, that nothing ever gets done.
Every once and a while, all this grandiose posturing makes an impression on people other than politicians. Ted Cruz made a 21 hour filibuster to kick off the shutdown. Now, granted, his filibuster was probably not nearly as awesome as Patton Oswalt's. Nothing will ever be that awesome. In evidence:
But still, Cruz had the real world equivalent, and that's something to celebrate, even if you couldn't possibly sit through all 21 hours of it awake, or agree with everything he said.
And that's the sort of thing that's been going on ever since. Great time to care about politicians being politicians. Because this is what they love the most. Aren't you happy to see them so happy?