If one wanted a sense of how difficult it's become to manage the public relations fallout of sequestration, they need read no further than Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) take on the significance of the spending cuts.
From the Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday:
"I'm for sequestration," Hatch said, if Congress can't cut spending. "We’ve got to face the music now, or it will be much tougher later."
With across-the-board spending cuts set to kick in next week, Hatch said sequestration would lead to an economic disaster in Utah as two-thirds of civilians working at Hill Air Force Base would be furloughed. He said it would be "devastating to our nation’s readiness."
Obviously, there is a bit of disjointed logic here. On the one hand, the $1 trillion in cuts, spread out over 10 years, are philosophically worth cheering. If spending is a "problem," this moves the country down a smart path. On the other hand, Hatch admits it would create national security havoc -- not to mention damaging economic ripple effects.
Hatch is hardly alone in trying to straddle these two positions. House Republican leadership has made the case that sequestration is a terrible way to go about deficit reduction though one that they will welcome if need be. The National Review editorial board, on Thursday, said it was "unwise policy" though they weren't "sure any of the extant alternatives are any better."
The willingness to accept a reality that they acknowledge will have bad consequences is, perhaps, one of the reasons why Republicans are polling worse than Democrats on the sequestration fight, though it's difficult to pinpoint that as the only reason.
If nothing else, it suggests that the party will have a tough time winning a spin war should sequestration happen and cause major economic damage. After all, while Republicans will accuse Obama of conceiving of the idea, Hatch and others in the party, like former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, are on the record saying they're for it.