* They become paranoid grouches. Between the "NSA is reading your emails" to thundering at fellow conservatives who understand immigration is the lifeblood of America, they display few happy warriors these days.
Yes, things are rotten, but they can be better.
* They choose poor candidates again in 2014. Enough said.
* They run to the left of President Obama on foreign policy. Our half-hearted effort on Syria, Iran's progress on nuclear weapons and China's cyberterrorism are arguments for decisive, action by the United States to help allies and keep foes in check.
* They neglect to spell out what plan they'd substitute for Obamacare. If they run on the impending disaster that awaits, they will need to assure the public there is an alternative - that provides better health care and lives up to the "affordable" promise of the Affordable Care Act.
* They savage and undermine House Speaker John Boehner.
When they have cut the legs out from under him, they have ended up with worse legislation. . . When they have been united, (such as on the sequester), they have been effective.
* They pay more attention to right-wing pundits and fear-mongers than to voters.
Republican voters are more flexible and want more effective government than you'd think from reading right-wing blogs or listening to the loudest talk-show hosts.
Lawmakers who are guided by such voices wind up out of sync with their constituents.
Rubin writes a blog, "Right Turn," for The Washington Post.