The Devil Made Me Do It

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TPM Reader RS with some good insight:

I’ve noticed a trend in GOP positioning statements recently (and who knows, maybe it’s happening among Dems as well and I’m just too partisan to notice). Rather than saying “we dont want to do X,” the GOP’s position is stated as if it were an immutable law of nature.

It came to mind when reading Labrador’s statement on immigration reform: “If they want a political victory they’re going to draw a fine red line and they’re going to say, either a pathway to citizenship or nothing else. They know that the Republicans in the House are not going to be able to vote for that…”

Not able to?

I think this might be a symptom of the underlying unpopularity of the GOP’s policies, that even advocates for their position can’t positively claim the position for themselves, but are reduced to passively noting their own position as if it were an unpleasant reality even to them.

Boehner’s become a master of this. “Obama needs to propose something that can pass the House”-type language. I suppose that something more active, e.g., “I won’t vote for this and neither will my caucus” immediately invites questions about what you will vote for – questions that have become toxic to the GOP since their base positions and the positions of the mainstream diverge on so many issues. Or perhaps in some cases it reflects an actual internal division – a middle-of-the-pack GOP congressperson who doesn’t enjoy kowtowing to the loony right, but knows that the only danger to their seat is a Tea Party primary opponent – so she’ll vote the crazy, but isn’t going to claim the crazy for her own. “I just cant vote for that.”

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David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
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