In view of the current fiscal situation, it’s the US Federal Government that needs to show self-restraint. (Of course, it should have been showing self-restraint way back when your brother was running it.)
In view of the current fiscal situation, it’s the US Federal Government that needs to show self-restraint. (Of course, it should have been showing self-restraint way back when your brother was running it.)
As relayed by Bridget Johnson of PJ Media:
‘Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that he takes umbrage at Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) assertion that Republicans could have banded together and successfully defunded Obamacare in the government shutdown but instead were responsible for losing the fight.
“But it was a fool’s errand to start with. It was never going to succeed. And the damage, this was not an academic exercise. The damage done to the people of this country...”
“All of those involved in it went on a fool’s errand. That’s just the fact. The other irony is that, in the polling data, national polling, Republicans are at an all-time historic low in approval or historic high in disapproval by the American people.”’
All of which could be said about John McCain’s disastrous presidential campaign.
When he came up from nowhere to beat the execrable Charlie Crist and become the junior Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio was the Tea Party darling. Big things were expected of him. But then he turned his back on the Tea Party base to back amnesty for illegal immigrants. His popularity has not recovered:
“In Florida, Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning polling organization, released a poll on Thursday that found only 43% of Floridians approved of Rubio while 53% disapproved. One year ago, 51% of Floridians approved and 33% disapproved of Rubio in the same poll.”
“Rubio's poll numbers started to drop, especially among conservatives and Republicans, as soon as he decided to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform along with senators like John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).”
Let Marco Rubio be an object lesson to conservative ‘moderates’, RINO’s and Red Tories that throwing your supporters under the bus is rarely a winning strategy.
“After the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed the Senate in June, Rubio went silent, and the Public Policy Poll showed that Rubio has the support of neither those who support a pathway to citizenship (23% support Rubio on immigration while 41% disapprove) nor those who oppose (19% support Rubio on immigration while 51% disapprove) in his home state. “
So now, thanks to his reactive flip flops, Rubio has achieved the sour spot of being equally hated by the supporters and opponents of an important issue. The gods of politics favour the resolute and punish the opportunistic.
And whatever else can be said about him now, Marco Rubio is not presidential timber.
Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney has a must-read article on the wholesome influence that the Tea Party has had on US politics:
‘Back in 2006, I asked a couple of conservative Republican congressmen to give blurbs for my book on corporate welfare. “My boss loves the book,” one of their top aides said, “but we’re not going to put his name on it." Why not, I asked. "Who do you think funds his campaigns?" she whispered. "It’s not the Family Research Council.”
In short, the conservative congressman was happy to fight the good fight, but he wasn’t willing to upset Big Business because that’s where the checks came from — and no checks meant no re-election.’
For a long time I did not understand why allegedly small-government conservatives were so reluctant to attack corporate welfare, which seemed like a winning issue that connects libertarianism to populism.
'Back then, to raise money, Republicans had to go to K Street. Call your former chief of staff who was now at a lobbying firm, have him host a fundraiser. Your ex-aide would show up with colleagues carrying $2,500 checks and with corporate clients handing over $5,000 checks from their political action committees.’
If you want to see what this dynamic looks like on the silver screen, go watch House of Cards.
‘Although K Street was the road to campaign cash, the party leadership was often the path to K Street. This helps explain the power dynamic in the pre-Tea Party GOP.
But the Tea Party smashed K Street's monopoly on Republican fundraising. The Club for Growth was founded in the late 1990s, and early last decade, it began targeting liberal Republicans in primaries. By 2010, the Club had become a giant force, raising money for candidates who met its rigorous ideological tests and pouring millions into independent expenditures against less-favored Republicans and Democrats.’
‘Instead of corporate interests filling Republican coffers, ideological money started coming in, too.'
While GOP leaders backed candidates like Charlie Crist (Fla.) and Trey Grayson (Ky.) in 2010 primaries, the SCF backed Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. K Street and the National Republican Senatorial Committee worked hand-in-hand — but for a change, there was a countervailing force.’
The media likes to present itself as anti-big business and ‘for the little guy’, but, in spite of this professed sentiment, they viscerally hate Republicans not beholden to big business and, periodically, supports those ‘moderate’ Republicans who are so beholden.
‘The Club for Growth was [Rand] Paul's biggest source of funds, giving him $105,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Senate Conservatives Fund kicked in $36,685. These two groups, together with FreedomWorks, also spent big on independent expenditures for Paul.
Ted Cruz also came to Washington by defeating K Street. The Club for Growth spent more than $2.5 million helping Cruz in the Texas GOP primary, while the SCF spent about $800,000. K Street was backing Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst -- he got $500,000 from business PACs (33 times Cruz's take), and GOP lobbyists hosted a fundraiser for him at the Capitol Hill townhouse of Democratic superlobbyist Tony Podesta.
As Cruz put it, “Everyone who makes their living from continuing the government-spending gravy train is supporting Dewhurst.”’
Sounds like Ted Cruz is Mr. Smith and David Dewhurst is Frank Underwood. No wonder the GOP establishment was so upset about Ted Cruz’s challenge even though there was so little apparent difference between the two in their stated policy platforms.
'If not from lobbyists and big businesses, where are these Tea Party groups getting their money? Mostly from small-business owners and conservative retirees. The Club for Growth has a big chunk of wealthy investors cutting them checks.'
Notice how the media, who love caterwauling about the malignant influence of ‘lobbyists’, really hate the Club of Growth and FreedomWorks? It’s almost as if their jeremiads against corporate lobbying were just a hypocritical smokescreen.
'It may confuse liberals who think free-market politics is just a corrupt deal to enrich Big Business — or who claim that the Tea Party is a Big Business front — but these are the opposing pulls in the GOP: K Street and the Tea Party.'
This is something the left and the media genuinely don’t get: that a platform of liberty is different from a platform of big business. Of course, it doesn’t help when the self-proclaimed champions of small government are constantly at the lobbyist’s trough.
‘Having two sources of money changes the party dramatically.’
The easier it is for politicians to do the right thing, the better.
‘“I don't think there's a way for Wall Street to punish the 25 to 50 hardcore House Republicans,” one Wall Street lobbyist told Politico in the first couple days of the shutdown. Referring to an anti-establishment libertarian freshman congressman, the lobbyist said, “I don't think Justin Amash cares if Bank of America gives to him or not.”
A Republican who doesn’t care about Bank of America checks wasn’t possible before the Tea Party.’
That it is possible is a very good thing - even though it drives the Main Stream Media bonkers.
Political strategy is one of the themes running though this blog. It is for this reason, that I find the current budget faceoff in Washington fascinating. The best take I have come across the current scene comes from David Goldman, aka Spengler:
“The Republican Party of John McCain and Mitt Romney lost two presidential elections, the second to a weak candidate in a weak economy. Left to its own devices, it will lose the next presidential election and all the following ones. By picking a fight on Obama’s least popular position, namely health care, the conservative wing of the party galvanized the party base and forced the House leadership into a fight.”
“Just as the conservative wing of the party needed its chance after the Nixon and Ford debacles of the 1970s, the conservative wing of the party needs to take its shot after the abysmal performance of the McCain wing — or there will be no party at all.”
This is right. The Republican Party will either adapt to current challenges or it will be replaced by something better, the way the Whigs were replaced by the GOP in the 1850’s… and Canada’s Progressive Conservatives were supplanted by the Reform Party in 1993.
“It well may be true that shutting down the government hurts the Republicans in the short run. That is immaterial; there is no way to get from here to there except by making a stand against Obamacare.”
Short-term pain for long-term gain. Conservative legends like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and more recently, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, understood this. The controversy-fearing ‘moderates’ don’t. Rather, these people prefer to channel St. Augustine, who said, “O Lord, give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
“There is no downside, for the Republican Party as presently configured already is a guaranteed loser. A reinvigorated conservative leadership has a chance of leading the party to victory.”
It is the mark of a weak politician to obstinately hold on to an untenable position rather than take a chance with victory.
The way forward, according to Goldman:
“The optimal Republican strategy now is to force a crisis over the debt ceiling.”
He then quotes the Brooking Institute’s Henry Aaron, who describes how Obama should precipitate such a crisis:
“If the debt ceiling is not increased, the president should disregard it, and honor spending and tax legislation.”
As Goldman points out:
“That is political overreaching of the worst kind. If Obama refuses to postpone the implementation of his health care plan in return for an extension of the debt ceiling, Republicans should stand their ground, and force the president to tear up the Constitution and assume dictatorial powers. Americans don’t like that, and they will dislike it doubly if Obama does so to protect a hated piece of legislation. It would clarify the choices before the electorate and give conservative Republicans something to run against.”
Something that go-along-to-get-along ‘moderates’ don’t get is that clarity is good. By defining differences you not only rally the base – electrifying their morale, but also give the non-aligned voter something to vote for. In contrast, the ‘moderate’ politician believes that avoiding controversy is the highest strategic goal. It is not. Rather, it is a fool’s errand because controversy is a politician’s constant companion. But by taking the initiative to clarify the issues, you – rather than your electoral enemies – get to choose the controversy.
Many conservative commentators and Republican politicians - spooked by Ted Cruz’s filibuster - have proposed the alternate strategy of doing nothing and letting Obamacare blow up. The thinking goes: Obamacare is a “train wreck” (in the words of one of its architects), the American people overwhelmingly hate it, its unpopularity is increasing over time and it will collapse under its own weight when it is fully implemented. Therefore, the Republicans should stand back, watch it crumble, and then pick up the electoral pieces when it does.
My problem with this line of thought is that, even if all of the underlying assumptions are true (and I believe that they are), why would the failure of Obamacare inspire American voters to vote for Republicans?
To see what I am getting at, let me rephrase my question: why would the Obamacare implosion cause voters to flock to a party that correctly foresaw the unfolding public policy disaster but chose not to fight its implementation because they thought they could cynically exploit the ensuing calamity for their own ends?
I wouldn’t want to vote for creeps like that either. Wouldn’t it be more likely the case that it would reinforce the notion, already strongly held by the ‘independents’ that “they’re all the same bunch of crooks”? How exactly do images of John McCain’s bipartisan backscratchin’ with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer brand the GOP as the party opposed to Obamacare?
The advantage of spirited battles, even ones that fail - like Ted Cruz’s filibuster - is that it sharpens up and differentiates party positions: if D is for x and R is against x, and you are against x, you vote for R. If the Republicans fail to stop Obamacare, and Obamacare fails, and the GOP gains electorally from it; it will be because of the clarity Ted Cruz brought to the debate - and because he succeeded in overcoming the oppo research fed to Chris Wallace by shadowy GOP operatives, and myopic tactics inspired by cowardice, such as this.
And then there is this: what if it doesn’t collapse, but somehow simply lumbers on, being a drag on the American economy for the next century while at the same time remaining politically impossible to repeal thanks to a minority block of Americans who directly benefit from it?
I have no idea if the conservative Republicans, led by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, will ultimately triumph in their latest effort to defund Obamacare but one thing we can all be sure of: that the effort is not as politically suicidal as the timid Republican establishment seems to think. How do I know? Simple: look at all the wailing by Democrat politicians and their courtiers in the press. If your competitor were about stick his head in a buzz saw, would you cry “Wait! For the love of God, don’t do that!” Or would you stand back and let him, sporting a wry smile while he commits suicide.
Some good political advice from former radical – turned conservative, David Horowitz, that echoes many of the themes that I have been pushing on these pages:
“The second thing we have learned [from Obama’s presidency] is something that everyone knows but no one wants to admit: well-designed character attacks can have a crucial impact on electoral outcomes; well-designed character attacks overpower well-crafted messages.”
“In the last election, Romney had a good message and an obvious one… .”
“But a critical majority of the voting public never heard Romney’s message. The reason? A $200 million smear campaign successfully portrayed him as a heartless job destroyer, a mouthpiece for the selfish rich, someone whose words you can’t trust.”
As I have always repeated, successful political campaigns successfully employ negative attacks.
“What was the answer of Obama’s opponents to this killer attack? They didn’t have one. There was no $200 million campaign dedicated to destroying Obama’s credibility and undermining his message. Obama’s opponents didn’t have a message discrediting his character and neutralizing his attacks.”
Yup. Another RINO loser more interested in winning the Miss Congeniality award than the election.
“How is it possible that his opponents have not buried him under his own disasters? How did two successive presidential candidates, McCain and Romney, characterize this selfish, malicious leader — selling hope while delivering misery — as a “good man,” and someone who only lacked experience for the job? How about a moral conscience?”
See what I mean.
“The answer is obvious to everyone but no one will say it out loud.
No one will confront Obama the way he deserves to be confronted because he is black. … It is because Obama is a minority that no one will hold him to a common standard; or confront him with what he has actually done. Any political consultant will tell you that you can’t. This is how race conscious and race-prejudiced our country has become.”
This I don’t blame Romney for. Americans are simply not rational about black-white racial differences. Of course, Obama is termed out so this can’t be used as an excuse any more. There will be no more ‘first black presidents’.
“Their campaign narrative goes like this: We are the defenders of the underdog, and the champions of equality and fairness. If you attack us you attack minorities, women, children, and the poor. If you oppose us you are racists;”
I was at a Conservative Party of Canada policy meeting a decade ago, where everybody was discussing how to modify policies so that we don’t get charged with racism. At some point in these deliberations, I forcefully piped up and told everybody present that it doesn’t matter if we move so far left there isn’t any daylight between ourselves and Leon Trotsky any more, we will still be called racists. Why? Because calling us racists is a tactic that works. Accept the fact that we will be called racists. Embrace the suck.
And have a plan to deal with the slander when it comes.
“So here’s the strategy, remembering that the best defense is a good offense: Attack the Democrat socialists for their wars against minorities and the poor. Expose their empty promises and question their character and undermine their message by portraying them as hypocrites who cannot be trusted. In attacking them as enemies of minorities and the poor we show that we care what happens to minorities and the poor. We put them on the defensive, and we neutralize their malicious and unfair attacks.”
“Conservatives often fail to appreciate the cynical basis of the attacks on them. Conservatives are earnest – too earnest. They aim their messages at the head instead of the heart. They appeal to reason instead of the emotions. That’s why they lose.”
The Romney campaign saw policy as a series of bullet-points on a power-point graph. The Obama campaign grasped the moral element of the debate. For instance, while I don’t agree with much of Ayn Rand’s teachings, her Objectivist followers are right to emphasize the moral element in capitalism. You want the youth vote? You get them by appealing to their idealism.
“It’s not rocket science. You can counter their attacks by turning their guns around. You can neutralize them by fighting fire with fire.”
Which was pretty much my advice 10 years ago. You don’t win by apologizing or denying. It’s too defensive. You win by returning fire.
“Finally, I don’t want to leave you with the idea that campaigns are won on negatives alone. The negatives I have proposed are designed to blunt the opposition attacks and put them on the defensive. But people need hope, and are looking for change. These are basic elements of any campaign message. In crafting the message the positive elements should be designed so that they also dramatize the negative: how the opposition hurts minorities, working Americans and the poor. In opposing parties that oppress these underdog classes we demonstrate that we care about what happens to them. It’s a simple equation. But our side doesn’t get it yet.”
Every good campaign is a harmonious mix of positive and negative messages. Unfortunately, conservatives rely on ad people not ideologues to craft their message. A winning message cannot be crafted without understanding the underlying arguments and social dynamics of the issues. Ideologues get that. PR types have the hubris to think they can sell politicians like toothpaste.
“ Even if this particular campaign doesn’t win the first or second time around it will eventually change the perceptions of everyone in politics.”
Perseverance is an important trait in politics. If you are not consistent you will not be believed, and you will not outlast your enemy. This was one of the secrets of Canadian gun owners. Come rain or shine, we were out there making the argument for gun rights. As a result, we were able to triumph in the end in spite of the fact that when we began, we had no allies in the political world or the media. This is a lesson Red Tories and RINO losers refuse to learn. They pick issues out of the air with focus groups and polling data and wonder why everybody thinks they are phonies.
But read the entire article.
At this year’s Manning Networking Conference I found myself having lunch at the same table as Sasha Issenberg, the author of the Victory Lab, a book that chronicles some of the awesome, new, cutting-edge, Big Data electioneering techniques the Obama campaign employed. He had just given an interesting presentation on this subject, which inspired me to buy his book (though I confess I haven’t read it yet, though I plan to).
I pointed out to him that while everything he said might be true, President Obama only won because of Hurricane Sandy. By hitting landfall a week before the election, this natural disaster banished Mitt Romney from the headlines in that critical last week of campaigning while it basked Obama in a presidential glow thanks to the fawning press coverage he received. In contrast to the treatment received by President Bush– who was immediately lambasted as soon as Katrina made landfall - the press praised President Obama’s handling of Sandy, in spite of the many disaster relief screw-ups (that were buried on the back pages and only highlighted in the conservative blogosphere).
As evidence, I pointed out that the same polls that correctly predicted Obama’s victory in the immediate days prior to election day, showed Romney leading, prior to Sandy’s landfall. This could be seen on Real Clear Politics’ (RCP) presidential election polling graph. Issenberg looked at me blankly and said he was not aware of such numbers.
I thought to myself: could I have imagined the whole thing? I mean, a data whiz and politics wonk like Issenberg surely couldn’t have missed numbers like that. Well, I finally got around to checking out the RCP archives and it turned out I was right. The politics geek got it wrong. Here is a screencap of the RCP polling graph for the final week and a half of the election (Sunday, Oct 21 to Tuesday, Nov 6):
It shows Romney clearly ahead of Obama from Oct 22 to Oct 30 in the public opinion polls making up RCP’s daily average. He wasn’t ahead by much (less than a percent), but this difference had persisted for over a week.
According to the Wikipedia page for Sandy:
“New York City began taking precautions on Oct 26. Governor Cuomo ordered the closure of MTA and its subway on October 28. … Train service and stations as well as the Port Authority Bus Terminal were shut down in the early morning hours of October 29… . On October 29, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered public schools closed. … Additionally, 200 National Guard troops were deployed in the city. Additionally, one of NYU Langone Medical Center's backup generators failed on October 29, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of patients, including those from the hospital's various intensive care units. U.S. stock trading was suspended for October 29–30.”
Meanwhile in New Jersey:
“Preparations began on October 26, when officials in Cape May County advised residents on barrier islands to evacuate… . Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie ordered all residents of barrier islands from Sandy Hook to Cape May to evacuate and closed Atlantic City casinos. Tolls were suspended on the northbound Garden State Parkway and the westbound Atlantic City Expressway starting at 6 a.m. on October 28. President Obama signed an emergency declaration for New Jersey. … Most schools, colleges and universities were closed October 29 while at least 509 out of 580 school districts were closed October 30.”
So it sounds like the biggest impact from Sandy in New York and New Jersey was felt between Oct 28 and Oct 30. Oct 30 was the last day Romney was ahead of Obama. Below is a screencap of RCP’s graph of Obama’s job approval polls for the same time period. Notice that the President’s job approval numbers increased from a low of 48.3% on Oct 27 to 49.8% on Oct 30, where they roughly stayed until the election. Prior to Oct 27, Obama’s job approval numbers had been falling.
From Oct 31 to Nov 3 there were hardly any election polls because of the storm, so the Romney vs. Obama graph hardly budges. Fresh polls started coming in on Nov 3 and showed Obama pulling away. The fact that both sides gained supporters was likely due to Low Information Voters making up their minds at the last minute. The difference between the final polls and the election results was likely because of the same trend continuing for another day.
Old political operators like Dick Morris like to point out that the undecideds almost always break against the incumbent. With high unemployment, a bad economy and Obamacare hanging around the President’s neck like an anvil, one would have thought this rule of thumb would have been especially applicable on Nov 6, 2012. But it wasn’t. The undecideds broke for Obama. Was the press’s hagiographic treatment of Obama’s performance during Hurricane Sandy a cause?
Did the virtual banishment of presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, from the headlines in the last full week of the campaign play a role in his defeat?
And might Mitt Romney be president today if Hurricane Sandy had decided to track up the mid-Atlantic instead?