The Republican quest for bipartisanship — at least nominally — is not hard to explain. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week and released this weekend showed that 44 percent of Americans see Republicans at fault for gridlock in Washington, compared with 29 percent who blame President Obama and the Democrats. Nineteen percent said both were to blame. That imbalance has persisted at almost exactly those proportions since last year…

For candidates with long political histories, the record can be inconvenient. During a recent debate, George Allen, the Republican nominee for a Senate seat from Virginia, talked about working with Hillary Rodham Clinton when he was previously in the Senate. His opponent, Tim Kaine, pointed out that Mr. Allen was then fond of saying, “I’d rather be drinking beer with George Bush than nibbling cheese and drinking wine with Hillary Clinton at her mansion.”

For every moment of conciliation that Mr. Allen seeks to highlight, there are remarks like those he made during the 1994 Virginia Republican Convention, when he said of Democrats, “Let’s enjoy knocking their soft teeth down their whining throats.”