Remember the phrase ‘never say never’?

You know the phrase “never say never”? It is meant to remind you that you don’t want to box yourself in to an intractable position lest an intervening epiphany of good sense overtakes you.

For one thing, if you show fierce loyalty (or fealty, depending on where you view things from) to a principle, and subsequently back down, you tend to disappoint some of your ardent defenders.

Take former Assembly GOP leader Mike Villines, a symbol of villification among his own party members who recall his treachery on taxes in 2009, when he was one of six Republicans to support a two-year tax hike and a ballot measure that would extend it another two years.

His fall may not have been so precipitous, but for how strongly he protested the idea of a tax hike. Here’s what he told the Los Angeles Times just months before helping shepherd the tax hike through:

“The legislative leaders understand we will not support a tax increase,” said Mike Villines, who stalked out of budget talks in anger Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t think the governor understands that. . . . It is so frustrating to sit through these meetings in his office. How many times can we say no to taxes?”

So, as the current crop of GOP leaders approach negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders, it will be interesting to see how far they will go (rhetorically) before/if they allow themselves to be talked back in from the ledge.

Steven Harmon