Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, has been trying for months to remake the image of the Republican Party, from one of uncompromising conservatism to something kinder and gentler.
It isn’t working so well.
On Wednesday, Republican leaders abruptly shelved one of the centerpieces of Mr. Cantor’s “Making Life Work” agenda — a bill to extend insurance coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions — in the face of a conservative revolt. Last month, legislation to streamline worker retraining programs barely squeaked through. In May, Republican leaders will try again with legislation, pitched as family-friendly, to allow employers to offer comp time or “flex time” instead of overtime. But it has little prospect for Senate passage.
So it has gone. Items that Mr. Cantor had hoped would change the Republican Party’s look, if not its priorities, have been ignored, have been greeted with yawns or have only worsened Republican divisions.
“We need to look at these issues through a more human lens and realize government has a role here, especially on some of these pocketbook issues,” said Representative Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, who expressed frustration with the lock-step opposition of the House’s fiercest conservatives. “Have we been successful? No. We’re still trying to find our way.”
It’s pretty obvious that there are a lot of Republicans who could care less about their public image and all that talk about rebranding and softening up the hard edges after the election is just bullshit to them. They don’t care if they come off as hard-core fringe-bound barking-mad; they think that’s the only way to win. They think they lost the last two presidential elections because the candidates weren’t conservative enough and that the country is waiting for a true nutjob to save them.
Works for me.