Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann have made careers as political scientists who focused on non-partisan analysis and eschewed singling out either party for bad behavior.
That changed with the publication of their book, It's Even Worse Than It Looks, which lamented that American politics had become more dysfunctional and that the Republican Party bore the brunt of the blame for the most recent offenses.
And after they made this argument, no one treated the news very seriously. Francis Wilkinson writes in Bloomberg about possible reasons why their theory failed to catch on:
It's hard to imagine a more wholesale indictment from two eminent political scientists, each with a decades-long track record of nonpartisan analysis. It's equally hard to imagine the press quietly absorbing a similarly pedigreed indictment of the Democratic Party; the elite press, in particular, would likely talk of nothing else. Yet mainstream news outlets, while giving the authors fairly prominent play, seem to treat the their thesis as neither new nor news.
Perhaps it's the soft bigotry of low expectations. The most anguish over the state of the Republican Party seems to flow from conservatives in varied states of excommunication, such as David Frum, Bruce Bartlett and a cadre of smart, young writers who object to the empowered-state vision of Democrats but can't abide the devolution of the Republicans. Many liberals, having perhaps never given sufficient credence to conservative thought in the first place, regard the book's premise with a knowing shrug. Elected Republicans, naturally, dismiss the book as partisan hackery (though former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel gave it an enthusiastic blurb). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, with characteristic deference to facts, denounced the authors as "ultra, ultra liberal." But the authors -- and their centrist disposition -- are well known. Perhaps their thesis is, too. It's just that no one knows what can be done about it, or by whom.