Wednesday, February 15, 2012


David Frum looks at President Obama's increasingly impressive poll numbers and concludes that the Republican Party has made an error in planning:

Republican strategy over the past 2 years has been premised on the assumption that President Obama is so hopelessly weakened that the GOP needn't bother addressing centrist voters at all.

That was never a very plausible assumption....

Whether it is the Ryan plan or the debt ceiling showdown or -- now -- contraception, Republicans have spent three years talking to themselves. It has been a narcissistic self-indulgence -- and may soon prove a very costly one as well.

I think it's a stretch to call what Republicans have come up with a "strategy." The people who are taking on these fights in the GOP aren't shrewdly and carefully assessing the percentages of liberals, moderates, and conservatives in America, and planning accordingly -- they're drinking their own Kool-Aid and concluding, at least on a subconscious level, that they don't have to worry about non-conservative voters because non-conservatives aren't really Americans.

Ann Coulter says Democrats would never win if we took away women's right to vote. Rush Limbaugh says Obama is pursuing an electoral strategy of trying win the votes of "the takers," not "the makers." These are rhetorical flights of fancy, but I think a large percentage of Republicans actually believe them, and have started to think that voters who don't pull the (R) lever aren't actually voters at all, because they shouldn't be. The ultimate example of this is the tea party's claim that its members are "taking our country back" -- as if it exclusively belongs to them. And hey, look: there's Rick Santorum, in the upbeat ad he just released this week, being described as "a trusted conservative who gives us the best chance to take back America."

"Republicans have spent three years talking to themselves," Frum writes, which is accurate -- although I'd say that's been true for a lot longer than three years. But what's more important is that Republicans have spent three-plus years assuming that all the people in America who aren't Republican are so depraved that we don't deserve to be called American. They've made political moves based on the notion that we don't really exist -- or at least that we couldn't possibly continue to maintain our beliefs when confronted with the self-evident wonderfulness of what they have to say.

And now they're paying the price.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


BH said...

There is one strategic aspect to the GOP's course, however, in the form of the various measures they've effected or supported to shrink the electorate via disqualification, discouragement and disinformation. The basic idea being, consistent with your & Frum's arguments, that the only people who really deserve the vote are their voters.

Danp said...

I think Frum would be right if by "centrist" he meant uninformed people without a strong sense of bigotry or desire to believe cynical conspiracies.

Ten Bears said...

That's an oxymoron, danp

Tom Hilton said...

I think it's a stretch to call what Republicans have come up with a "strategy."

Right--just as it's a stretch to call "conservatism" an "ideology". Their "strategy", like their "ideology", is nothing more than a collection of impulses.

Cereal said...

You forget that politics is only incidental to these people. They are in it for the money - the book deals, talk shows and lecture circuits, fundraising, megachurch sourced donations, lobbying, pork spending, contracts, the lot. They do as well or better when they lose elections. Thus "talking to themselves" is all they need to or want to do. Moving to include The Enemy, being reasonable, accepting "facts," those things kill them with their public. I mean their suckers. So don't expect them to
Do that, ever.

c u n d gulag said...

"Cereal" is right!

The more they lose, the more aggrieved they are.

And the higher their future input from the knuckle-dragging, cave-swelling, moronic rubes, on the right will be.

If they lose, Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, Paul, etc., won't have just failed - they will have failed Conservatism!
By not being Conservative ENOUGH!.

And they will all descend, hopefully, into obscurity - THE party for the old, the dying fearful and hateful, the white racists, the misogynists, the xenophobes, and homophobes, who comprise today's base of the Republican Party.