Even as they grudgingly have come to accept that they can’t prevent the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, Republicans have increasingly started explaining this pitiable state of affairs to themselves as the product of President Obama’s unique malevolence. The operating theory here is that Obama is not demanding higher taxes on the rich because it advances his public policy goals. No, his goal, writes Karl Rove today, is to “kick off a Republican civil war.” This odd theory has likewise found expression from Charles Krauthammer (“Obama’s objective in these negotiations is not economic but political: not to solve the debt crisis but to fracture the Republican majority in the House,”) Peter Wehner, and other luminaries of the right.... It’s certainly true that Republicans are undergoing some internal strife right now over the tax issue. Daniel Henninger,... on the Journal editorial page, mourns that the president is “dismantle[ing] their party by letting its most basic conservative principles disappear.” But how this is Obama’s fault, I can’t quite figure out. It was Republicans who elevated the unpopular cause of low income tax rates for the rich to a sacred principle, built an entire party theology around punishing even the slightest dissent from that principle, and then enacted the sacred agenda through a rickety budget mechanism that caused it all to expire after a decade. That was a bad idea. Since Republicans are at least considering how to rebuild their party at the moment, my advice would be to do something else next time.