If tax rates went up for everyone on Jan. 1, Republicans hoped Obama and Reid would get the blame. Fearing this fallout, Democrats might compromise.

But that strategy requires media cooperation. If you want to create the impression that Democrats are to blame for an impasse, you need the major media to tell that story. In most regions of the mainstream media, though, it is dogma that Republicans are the ones who make unreasonable demands, and that Republicans are the ones who are intransigent. If Jan. 1 came and went without a deal on taxes, it’s predictable the media would mostly blame Republicans, no matter what led up to it.

Within the context of this dubious strategy, Republican members also question leadership’s tactics.

One charge: Leadership never worked with members in crafting Plan B. “We walked into conference” on Monday, one Republican member told me, “and we were told, ‘Here it is. Here’s what we’re going to do.’ “