Jonah, is it your experience that conservatives are incapable of admitting that other conservatives have done disreputable or immoral things? That they, when confronted with evidence of same, say that the people who did them were not conservatives? It certainly isn’t my experience. I don’t think the “strategy of psychological innocence” that Perlstein claims to detect actually exists.
The notion that congressional Republicans are doing something sinister by voting for vouchers for D.C. kids “during an out-of-town presidential [primary] debate” is a real stretch. There are a lot of primary debates, they don’t so dominate the political news cycle as to crowd out coverage of congressional votes, and Congress has to keep working during the winter and spring. Besides, most congressional Republicans were proud of that vote and wanted it to get more coverage. It’s Bill Clinton who vetoed a voucher bill in the middle of the night.