Somewhere in our nation's capital, there is a well. We're not sure if it has water, but it has something else in it. A lot of it. And someone in particular is responsible for putting it there, according to Republicans.
Over the course of the Obama administration, they have attached the phrase "poison the well" to a lot of presidential actions. The American Bridge PAC on Thursday has listed 17 of the occasions it's been used by Republicans throughout the Obama administration.The phrase's most recent revival comes courtesy of House Speaker John Boehner, who, just after the midterm elections earlier this month, addressed the president's plan for executive action on immigration.
If he acts unilaterally, on his own--outside of his authority--he will poison the well, and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress. It's as simple as that.
Representative Paul Ryan also used the phrase about immigration on Wednesday.
I fear that if the president moves forward on this unconstitutional executive order, that he’s going to do so much to poison the well intentionally.
The Wisconsin Senator is, in fact, one of Washington's more frequent monitors of well toxicity. He actually warned all the way back in August that the president's executive action (which wound up getting delayed past the midterms) would "poison the well."
In 2011, Ryan said the president's criticism of his budget had also poisoned the well. In 2010 it was campaign ads accusing Republicans of trying to privatize Social Security, according to the PAC's list.