Eight of the Senate’s Republican and Democratic leaders are touting a bipartisan immigration deal. The effort by some Republicans to find common ground with Democrats on such a major issue is a welcome development–even if it’s driven primarily by changing voter demographics.
But on nearly every other issue, Republicans are poised to continue with business as usual: the same obstructionism that has earned them low approval ratings and less power. This past weekend, key Republican leaders insisted their policies need no overhaul. “It’s not the platform of the party that’s the issue,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said. “In many cases, it’s how we communicate about it. It is a couple dumb things that people have said.”
Another Republican told Politico, ”We don’t need a new pair of shoes; we just need to shine our shoes.” That was the West Virginia committewoman Melody Potter. The New Hampshire chairman Wayne MacDonald felt similarly, “Nobody is saying the Republican Party has to change our beliefs in any of our platform planks. This party wants to serve everybody that believes in our principles.”
Republicans have been repeating that “it’s not the policy, it’s the packaging” mantra for a while now. But there are an increasing number of skeptics. Even conservative columnist Byron York is calling them out over it. He covered the latest GOP retreat and reported that “nobody at the winter meeting had any illusions that 80’s-style Republican success is even on the horizon for the party.”
Republicans are blaming the Democrats for Washington’s dysfunction. On Meet the Press, Paul Ryan blamed Democrats for what he considers to be the practically inevitable sequestration spending cuts. Republicans insist the deal must include $1.2 trillion in cuts. Democrats want a deal with revenue increases too, a 50-50 split. According to Paul Ryan, it’s the Democrats fault that they want a deal with some of what each side wants, instead of just what Republicans want. Rep. Ryan said President Obama is responsible for the GOP’s unpopularity. “The president will bait us. He’ll portray us as cruel and unyielding,” he said at a conservative event on Saturday. “We won’t play the villain in his morality plays.”
Actually, election results and recent polls say the GOP doesn’t need any help making itself look bad to American voters.