Dave Weigel casts doubt on what seems to be the latest fantasy on Capitol Hill, namely that bringing up sure-to-fail amendments on flag burning and gay marriage will make conservatives forget about Republican fecklessness on spending and immigration. Of special note:
“They would solve a lot of their problems overnight if they tackled overspending,” says Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “But they’re dug in.” The majority party gave up years ago on actually cutting spending or entitlements, terrified that doing so would give Democrats an opening. … Spending cuts and drastic government reforms could help them reconnect with the base or even win over voters, but that’s a risk, and they don’t want to take risks.
It’s possible that playing it safe is the smart move. After all, Republicans have a significant structural advantage going into the elections. (Democrats have to pretty much run the table in a relatively small number of swing districts to take over the House. The Senate map similarly favors the GOP.) But there does come a time when risk-aversion itself becomes a risk.