by Benjamin J. Kirby
Matt has written on the once-vaunted GOP message machine.
No matter the issue, the Republicans seemed to have the best turn of phrase or snippet, a perfect three second sound-bite or catchy label to swing perception of an issue. Recently, this has just not been the case. Perhaps it's the rise of the tea party and loss of party discipline in general, perhaps it is just being on the wrong side of an issue too often, but they just seem to have lost their way.
Before that I wrote about the GOP's broken brand.
Lately, you have to think that the Republican Party is ruining their brand.
One of the leading spokesmen around the issues of the Republican Party suggested that women who use contraception are "sluts" and "prostitutes". I'm not misusing quotes, here. Rush Limbaugh actually said those things.
What it comes down to is staying on-message. And at least on this blog, there's unanimity that lately, the GOP ain't gettin' it done.
And it would appear former Florida Governor Jeb Bush kind of agrees with us.
Bush is not making a pitch for moderation or watered-down conservative principles, but for conservatism that goes beyond a talking point.
"Ronald Reagan would have … a hard time if you define the Republican Party—and I don’t—as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground," Bush said, adding that he views the partisan sclerosis as "temporary."
"Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time—they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support," he said. Today Reagan "would be criticized for doing the things that he did."
You know, you can often tell how well you're doing by who is speaking out against you:
But others did not agree, among them Grover Norquist, the anti-taxation activist whose “no new taxes” pledge Mr. Bush’s father broke when he struck the 1990 budget deal with Democrats that raised rates — a move Mr. Bush pointed to Monday as an example of political courage.
“Jeb hasn’t run for office for 10 years,” Mr. Norquist said. “The modern Republican Party is a party that won’t raise taxes.”
It is also a party and a political environment in which, Mr. Bush said Monday, even Reagan “would be criticized for doing the things that he did — that’s the point of the context changing.”
The modern Republican Party is a party that won't raise taxes. It just says so much, doesn't it?
Do you think Grover sees that he's on a sinking ship? If he does, do you think he cares? The party that won't raise taxes? It's unsustainable, of course, and Grover knows it. So does Jeb.
I know that the word now, today is that Jeb missed his chance at the presidency. But with these recent developments, I'm not so sure. Is he framing himself for 2016? Is he looking ahead at a reinvigorated, reformulated GOP? Does he see a GOP without the constraints of a Grover "Bathtub" Norquist and the tea party weirdos?
You know, if he is then this early framing is really brilliant. Maybe, his reasoning might go, Republicans -- and certainly, hopefully -- the American people might be getting tired of a party that has embraced the ideology of "bipartisanship is another name for date rape" (Norquist, The Denver Post, 26 May 2003, p. A-01). Maybe they're tired of a party which has as a goal to "inflict pain," to note that it is "...not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat." Maybe someone -- maybe Jeb -- wants to stand out among the tea party freaks and brainless, dead-ender Norquist disciples and do better than just take their "opponent's head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see." (National Review, quoted in The Republican Noise Machine by David Brock, Crown Publishers 2004, pg. 50).
It wasn't that long ago that Republican staffers were telling me -- for certain, in no uncertain terms, with absolute conviction -- that Jeb Bush was going to jump in to the GOP primary conflagration which only recently fizzled into the sorry, unexciting campaign of Mitt Romney, and save the day by wresting the nomination from Romney, Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, Gingrich, and all the other unworthy pretenders. It couldn't be anyone else but Jeb. It was going to be Jeb! (As an aside, one of the reasons it had to be Jeb was because it was assuredly going to be Hillary Clinton, who would -- naturally -- challenge sitting President Barack Obama. Of course.)
I wonder what those folks think of Jeb now.