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2/21/2010
GOP A BIG LOSER AT CPAC

Republican leaders were treated well enough by attendees at CPAC. They clapped in all the right places. They cheered lustily at every Obama put down. They dutifully applauded at the 100,000th mention at the conference that the GOP had learned its lesson and were now born again fiscal conservatives.

Then attendees went ahead and gave Ron Paul a victory in the presidential straw poll.

National Journal’s Hotline on Call, picking winners and losers, tags the GOP as a big loser:

What the straw poll did show is that many conservatives aren’t happy with the GOP. RNC chair Michael Steele’s fav/unfav rating is upside down, and 37% say they view GOP leadership in Congress unfavorably too. Many speeches included reminders that the GOP had its chance and lost power because of excess spending. If anything, CPAC showed the GOP is courting the Tea Party movement, but Tea Partiers aren’t sold yet.

A man much admired by many tea partyers, Glenn Beck really let the Republicans have it during his keynote address:

Beck also recalled Reagan’s use of the phrase “morning in America” from one of his TV campaign ads. “It is still morning in America, said Beck. “It’s shaping up to be sort of a nasty day, but it’s still morning in America.” Beck blamed “progressivism” in both parties as the “cancer” in U.S. politics.

“It’s big government, and we need to address it as if it is a cancer,” Beck, on the other issues facing politics. “You must eradicate it. … We need big thinkers and brave people, with spines, who can make the case [that] … it’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be ok. We’re going to make it.”

“It’s not enough to not suck as much as the other side,” said Beck, on how Republicans can regain their ideals. “The first step to redemption is admitting you have a problem. … When they do say they have a problem, I don’t know if I believe them. … They’ve got to recognize they have a problem. … ‘I’m addicted to spending and big government.’”

Beck also made the observation that, “One party will tax and spend. The other party won’t tax, but spend. It’s both of them together. I’m tired of feeling like a freak in America.”

And so it went for most of the conference. The crowd saved their biggest applause for those out of government (Gingrich, Cheney), or those challenging the establishment (Rubio), or for those who are quirky, loony politicians who want to go back to a gold standard while eliminating the Fed (Ron Paul).

“It’s not enough to not suck as much as the other side,” is very good advice from Beck. Too bad the GOP isn’t taking it. The fact is, the Republicans can make huge gains in the House and Senate simply by presenting themselves as a less sucky alternative to the Democrats. They don’t need any specific ideas. The certainly don’t think they need a new agenda.

Whatever pablum emerges as a GOP platform for 2010 I guarantee will look a lot like 2008, 2006, 2004, 2002, and 2000. They may drop anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion stuff further down the page. And there will be a something about returning to “constitutional government’ which, while I find a lot of what Obama and the Democrats are doing to be inimical to liberty, I don’t recall the Supreme Court coming out and pronouncing their agenda “unconstitutional.” For people who claim a fealty to a strict interpretation of the Constitution, I find it fascinating that they declare stuff the administration is doing “unconstitutional” when that document implies such determinations are made by the Supreme Court and not conservative activists.

Of course, judicial review is not written into the Constitution but since Marbury vs. Madison, the high court’s jurisdiction in matters pertaining to the interpretation of what is constitutional and what isn’t hasn’t been questioned. Hence, while I agree with those activists who question the constitutionality of some of what Obama has sought to do, I think it nonsensical to declare willy nilly that just because there is no mention of health insurance in our founding document, that the attempt for a government takeover of health care is, by itself, unconstitutional. It’s a horrible, stupid, ruinous idea. But unconstitutional? I will wait for the Supreme Court to decide that question.

Also, this loyalty to our Constitution seems to have its limits with many activists. I seem to recall a passage in there about Congress being granted the sole authority to declare war or something. This is a problem for many (not all) strict constructionists who appear to want government to treat what’s in the Constitution as the Revealed Word on some things, but others? Not so much.

But never fear, there will almost certainly be language in any GOP manifesto for the election that will seek a “return” to constitutional government. Asking those conservatives when we abandoned that kind of government would elicit some fascinating responses, no doubt.

All snark aside, the Republicans are in a bind. They put on a full court press at CPAC to attract, flatter, and praise the tea party movement, while seeking to move them into the GOP orbit, as Hotline explains:

The Tea Party Movement: Virtually every speaker paid homage to a movement that remains loosely defined, praising fiscal restraint and a renewed energy among activists protesting the Obama admin’s policies. The media had fun interviewing the guy in the tri-cornered hat and “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, but GOP leaders are doing their best to incorporate, and kowtow to, the movement. Anyone who can show they lead a local Tea Party group is leaving CPAC with an enormous sense of power, and the GOP is all too happy oblige.

I have no doubt that a sizable segment of the tea party movement - perhaps even a majority - will resist the siren song of Steele et. al. and remain outside the party structure. But the conservative/libertarian bent of the movement makes it inevitable that there will be some synergy between the establishment and the new grass roots simply because they are a natural fit. The Democrats aren’t interested in conservative reform and have kicked the flirtatious libertarians to the sidelines. Since there seems - at the moment - to be little energy among the grass roots for a third party, that leaves them only one place to go.

The GOP will make big gains in 2010 simply by being less sucky than the Democrats. But the difference between picking up 25 seats in the House and 4-5 in the Senate, and a Republican tsunami that sweeps the Democrats from power will be the GOP’s ability to offer a positive agenda that speaks to the fears and concerns of ordinary voters. Without something to vote for, the great independent middle of the electorate who broadly support a platform that espouses fiscal sanity and an end to legislative overreach by the Democrats, will not give Republicans the smashing victory they are capable of achieving unless there are specific initiatives that deal with their everyday problems.

It’s not enough to say you’re for the Constitution. Holy Jesus, you might as well say you’re for apple pie, and grandmothers. Republicans are going to have to earn this one by convincing the American voter that they hear their cries for help, and will respond by passing legislation that deals with the specific causes of their misery; jobs, the deficit, skyrocketing health care costs, and a promise that what happened on Wall Street that initiated this mess, won’t happen again, among other things.

Can a party and a movement that has worn its disdain for government action of just about any kind on its sleeve convince people that it now sees government as part of the solution?

That would be a trick worthy of Houdini.

By: Rick Moran at 11:20 am
11 Responses to “GOP A BIG LOSER AT CPAC”
  1. 1
    Russell Miller Said:
    11:41 am 

    If the GOP has one ability, it’s framing things in such a way as to say omething one day, then to convince its followers that it didn’t really say that and said something else the following day. The GOP is *masterful* at that. Yes, it’s hypocrisy and reproachful, but it’s what they do, and it works.

    It’s mostly because the average follower of the party isn’t much smarter than your average Bassett Hound, and a little less gentle.

    I’m not giving the Democrats a pass, by the way. Dangle something feel-good in front of them and they’ll jump off a cliff, feeling good about themselves all the way down.

    Both parties are only as good as their followers, and both parties suck.

  2. 2
    The GOP Needs an Agenda | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen Pinged With:
    11:58 am 

    [...] Rick Moran explains why “being less sucky” isn’t going to be enough for the GOP to sweep back into power this fall, even if it will be enough for the GOP to make significant gains in both houses.  I fully concur.  Party of No plus vague platitudes about the Constitution (as Moran points out, they might as well say that they’re for apple pie and grandmothers) equals same shit, different day. var addthis_language = ‘en’;var addthis_options = ‘email, favorites, digg, delicious, myspace, google, facebook, reddit, live, more’; [...]

  3. 3
    michael reynolds Said:
    12:37 pm 

    Russell:

    Well said, sir.

  4. 4
    CZ Said:
    2:00 pm 

    If GOP candidates just keep right of the center line they will avoid a head on collision and everything will work out fine next November.

    But there are hazards ahead. Steer to the left with legislation and whap! You’ll be out.

    Thanks to the great awakening of the tea party people we may be entering a new era of accountability for all politicians. There are more of us than there are of them. And we’re watching every move.

    Compromise is for quitters.

  5. 5
    busboy33 Said:
    5:15 pm 

    “Since there seems - at the moment - to be little energy among the grass roots for a third party, that leaves them only one place to go.”

    That is only true if you accept an unstated assumption as true — that the Tea Partiers are actually trying to win elections.

    If the goal is to win a majority of the electorate, then for all their whining the Tea Party is going to have to allign themselves with the GOP. There is no other viable port in this particular storm. That is true.
    However, if the goal is ideological purity, then fatally crippling the GOP and remaining the purist whack-a-doodle club is a perfectly acceptable option. When they lose every race, they can dress up in their Revolutionary costumes and assure each other its simply because the Bilderbergs have poisoned the minds of the populace, and the only thing that will awaken the trapped masses is another costumed march thru the town. They get all the pleasure of loudly complaining about the government and feeling smug, without any of the complication that would attend actually trying to fix the damned thing. The Tea Party will just become a social club, one that has as an unstated goal the removal of votes from the GOP, a “I’m taking my ball and going home” sort of vibe.

    The other big problem that the Tea Party has is the inherent dichotomy in its makeup. You have an avowed hatred of politics-as-usual trying to use politics-as-usual to change things. Those that can’t stomach getting their hands dirty simply stay in the background and complain, and those that are willing to play the game (suprise) do so for their own personal enrichment. Sub-parties splitting off, copyright battles, nebulous donation trees . . . why, its just how politics works, all right!

    The Tea Party is alot like Communism: it’s a GREAT idea . . . on paper. Applying political theory to the real world is an intricate, complicated, messy job. The pure theory will NOT make it thru into this world unscathed. Great theories make bad, bad action plans sometimes. Theory should guide your actions, not define them. Unfortunately, the Tea Party, having been fed on “pure” slogans, is (IMO) going to find it impossible to step back from “ideal” to “practical”.

    As CZ said above:

    “Compromise is for quitters.”

    Politics without compromise. You know what that’s called, CZ? A dictatorship. It’s a politically worthless statement . . . but boy, does it tickle my “Win One For The Gipper / Ruuuuudy! Ruuuuuudy! Ruuuuuudy!” gland.
    You know what else compromise is for? Getting things done. Exactly as the founding fathers planned and intended. As they explicitly spelled out in the Debates and the Federalist Papers.
    That must be one of those “inconvienent” parts of Original Intent that Rick was talking about. Better just ignore it then.

    Ruuuudy! Ruuuuudy! Ruuuuuudy!

    . . . yeah, that’s much better.

  6. 6
    Alex Said:
    5:22 pm 

    I wouldn’t read too strongly into the Ron Paul straw poll victory. The entire Campaign for Liberty PAC was there, undoubtedly voting for their leader. It’s exactly like what happened two years ago when Mitt Romney won when you could tell his entire campaign staff was there. Oh man, what a surprise.

  7. 7
    michael reynolds Said:
    5:44 pm 

    Busboy:

    I think the problem the Tea Party people have is a complete disconnect between what they say they want and what they really want. They claim to want lower taxes while most just got a tax cut and have not yet had taxes raised. A large number of them don’t pay taxes at all or pay taxes at low rates.

    At the same time I’ve yet to hear that these folks are demanding cuts in their own entitlements or in defense. Are they yelling for Medicare cuts? No. How about Social Security? Not so much. Do they want their local base closed? No. Do they have a list of wars and military commitments they’d like to end? No.

    It’s a Free Lunch movement: cut our taxes, don’t cut our benefits. So it’s not fundamentally different from the larger conservative movement which calls for less government except as it relates to them and to their constituencies.

    The things that got them riled up to begin with are in the past — the various massive bailouts begun by the Republicans and carried forward by the Democrats. Well, that money is spent. Now we’re discussing the future. So what’s their plan for the future? Tax cuts and Medicare. Tax cuts and Social Security. Tax cuts and all the defense spending the Pentagon could ever want.

    These people are Baby Boomers for the most part and they want exactly what my generation has always wanted, left, right or center: a free lunch.

  8. 8
    Sammy Benoit Said:
    6:20 pm 

    Rick
    Can’t really use that poll for anything, it was only 25% of the people there and it was not a random sample, in fact it was mostly the Paultards.

  9. 9
    Travis Monitor Said:
    8:38 pm 

    “It’s mostly because the average follower of the party isn’t much smarter than your average Bassett Hound, and a little less gentle.”

    If Liberals have one ability, it’s the ability to actually be the intellectual inferior of conservative while believing the opposite.

    They are also very good at projecting flaws they possess onto the GOP and conservatives.

    But most importantly, this arrogant attitude towards fellow citizens is one shared by the Democrat party leaders in DC. It’s a fatal flaw that is about to destroy the Democrat party in a way that it hasnt seen in a long time. The Titanic is going down.

    #5 is the only sensible comment in this whole thread. The straw poll means squat.

  10. 10
    busboy33 Said:
    11:48 pm 

    “#5 is the only sensible comment in this whole thread. The straw poll means squat.”

    Then everything Rick said and talked about must be completely untrue and/or irrevelant.

    You’ve had your “All Libruls are teh stoopid” vomit for the week Travis. Now go stick your head back in the sand.

  11. 11
    Russell Miller Said:
    1:12 am 

    Travis, you fail at reading comprehension. Note that I specifically did not give democrats a pass. I am not one.

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