Whenever I got into a noisy fracas with another kid on the block,  my mother  would give me a stern warning to “play nice”.  It was a reasonable maternal reaction to spare me of a black eye or swollen  lip in a neighborhood where the odds were against me coming out ahead.

That’s not a cautionary guide for  Republicans these days.  None seem to be in a very  good mood today to  give up their cheerless fight against  President Obama.  You know, the one they lost by 5 million votes last November.  After all, the next presidential election is scarcely four years away and Republicans haven’t heard that Obama is ineligible to seek a third term.

Life in the GOP is so chaotic that the participants are  attacking each other.  Even State Treasurer Josh Mandel has come out of  brief seclusion since his defeat by Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown to attack, of all people, Gov. Kasich.  Mandel, like many of his ad hoc Tea Party friends, is not pleased that Kasich, in a move that was more pragmatic  than humane for him, has agreed to expand Medicaid since the feds are paying for it.

And just as the party’s high command figured that their “rising star'” from Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio,  would serve the party well in responding to Obama’s State of the Union address,  he wiped sweaty  beads from his face with nervous tics and clumsily grabbed a bottle of water as though he were a shoplifter at a 7-Eleven.  It’s not the sort of performance art that would qualify him for  Emily”s List as an after-dinner speaker.

You can argue that the media are making too much of what the wags have quickly defined as “Watergate”.  But Rubio left the impression that he was  totally unprepared to play in a higher league and his waterlogue will be remembered alongside Rick Perry’s inability to name the  third  federal agency that he wanted to eliminate.  It’s 2013, folks. There  are cameras everywhere.

Speaking of TV  cameras, Speaker John Boehner, sitting directly behind Obama, had such a grim expression that you  wondered whether his dinner was on the verge of erupting.  And Mitch McConnell’s owlish visage  never is encouraging that brighter days lie ahead if the Republicans ever take over the Senate.  The best spin that he could offer was that the address was nothing more than “liberalism and lip service”.

Considering that liberalism has  been so successful for Obama,  Mitch could do worse than to arrive at the Oval Office with cup in hand to  borrow a little for  the GOP’s own survival.