It’s a little late to pretend you want to govern

This would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic:

House Republicans want to use their final week in Washington before the August recess to send a signal that they are ready to govern.

As the country’s attention turns to the fight for control of the House and Senate, Republicans want to show they are capable of handling two of the nation’s toughest issues: the thousands of children crossing the border, and the veterans in need of healthcare.

“This is a crisis situation. We need to show that we can respond in a crisis in a thoughtful way,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said of the effort to move a border bill.

This is, of course, mostly internal Republican party politics. It’s less that the entire GOP is trying to prove to voters that they’re capable of governing, but rather that GOP leadership is begging the crazies to at least give the party a chance to pretend to voters at the eleventh hour that they’re capable.

But it’s remarkable to watch: even as Boehner gives his far right pro-impeachment flank a carrot by initiating a preposterous and unpopular lawsuit, he holds the stick of losing elections to persuade them to actually do something halfway reasonable on immigration and healthcare for veterans.

It’s an awkward dance, and it’s going to get clumsier as election day approaches and Democratic messaging drives wedges deeper into the Republican foundation. The leadership will pretend that the GOP really does want to be reasonable and govern, but their base wants revanchism, not reason.

And it’s a little late to be playing rebranding games in any case.

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David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.