If you don’t like telling people No, a convenient alternative is setting conditions you know other people won’t accept. Then the impasse is their fault, you see. Take free trade, for example:

…Democrats do not flat-out oppose lower barriers to trade, or flat-out endorse explicitly protectionist measures. Instead, their views are usually couched in terms of environmental concerns and workers’ rights. Congressional Democrats, for instance, will claim that they are not against free trade; they just insist on provisos in free-trade agreements that no sovereign nation could possibly accept.

That’s John Steele Gordon, writing in Commentary. Well-said.