Republican Disarray

This was an interesting week for political junkies.  The Republican loss in Mississippi was, to use Republican Minority Leader John Boehner's favorite term, a "wake-up call".  

Responding to that call, Tom Davis, former head of the NRCC, sent out a sobering memo, full of stuff like this:

Given the strong intensity to the President and the Republican brand, turnout generation is much easier for Democrats than Republicans.


No where is the Democratic surge more demonstrable than in the fundraising totals.


Immigration pits our business wing against our grass roots wing. The War has turned many educated, affluent Republicans away. Spending priorities, scandals, gas prices and home value declines leave little for Republicans to be enthused over, particularly when our ability to draw issue lines and force choices by Democrats is frustrated by House Rules, inarticulate and unfocused national leadership and finger pointing.


Our message is stale. Without a clear change in direction, Congressional Republicans can count on more Louisiana’s and Illinois’s. If we were a business that had been losing market share, would we simply wait for our competition’s product to blow up? Or, would we re-tool, innovate and make the appropriate changes. They don’t like our dog food. They may not like the Democrat’s either, but for now, and through November, they appear to be buying it.

With that in mind, the House GOP rolled out a new set of talking points.  Apparently immune to irony, their site features a picture of six-term Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12) flanked by nine-term Minority Leader John Boehner and six-term Minority Whip Roy Blount, with a caption saying "Washington is broken".  

Randy Kuhl, who seems willing to repeat any of his leadership's talking points, dutifully rolled out a press release announcing a "Fix Washington" project.   Kuhl will be soliciting ideas from constituents on legislation to fix DC with a new form on his website

In other words, Tom Davis tells House Republicans that they need a "clear change in direction".  Randy Kuhl responds with a better way to write your Congressman.  I don't think that's the kind of change Davis had in mind.


They don’t like our dog food. They may not like the Democrat’s either, but for now, and through November, they appear to be buying it.

Cynicism in politics doesn't surprise me but can we really call this guy a hypocrite? He's telling the truth as he sees it: we are stupid animals and the MBAs need to come up with a different formula for the slop that they are feeding us. "Get Creative on a conference call."

Is it possible that people with that kind of arrogance will be able to restore the GOP, or will it be necessary for a new type of strategist to emerge, maybe with faux humility, charm and a new improved line of crap, to save the party brand? Stay tuned.

I agree that that "branding" metaphors are weak and condescending, and assume that chicken salad can be made out of chicken shit as long as you change the color of the label.

The positive part of that memo includes the following: have Bush propose a gimmicky energy bill that promises to lower gas prices and dare Democrats to vote against it; push hard on FISA; and say that Democrats will raise the capital gains tax.

I didn't see one new idea in the whole list. I thought the gimmicky energy bill was funny. I was just a kid at the time, but I remember Nixon's "price freezes" and other assorted economic tricks, which accomplished nothing.

I hadn't read the whole memo when I posted my comment. Davis is clearly ready to dump the Administration, but at the same time use the "big microphone" of Bush or McCain to attack the Democrats with smoke and mirrors proposals.

It's clear that his only real hope is that the Republicans will be able to blame the Democrats for everything bad once they achieve real control of the congress and possibly the administration. In other words, he'd like to change places with Democrats, but that might take a few years. It's the song of somebody who didn't abandon ship and is bracing for the storm, apparently as a moderate Republican.

The power of the presidency and how it affects the general elections is indeed amazing. When Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, the Democrats had a 23 member advantage in the Senate (61-38). Four years of Carter led to a Reagan election and a Republican majority in the senate (53-46). A change of 15 seats in just 4 years.

After six years of Regan, he lost the senate majority (55-45 Democrat) a loss of 8 seats for Republicans. Most of this was due to Iran-Contra. Reagan was popular enough that his Vice President was elected President (something Clinton or Eisenhower couldn't do)

Bush the elder actually lost 2 Senate seats during his 4 year term and was the first incumbent to loose since Carter.

Clinton wasn't really a good President as far as his party's success goes. After two years of Clinton, the Republicans took full control of congress for the first time in 40 years. He also wasn't able to get his Vice President elected even if it was a razor thin loss for Gore.

Bush actually maintained a Republican majority in the Senate in the general elections (the only loss of control was due to the Jefford's defection). Just like Reagan, he lost control of the senate after six years and he will probably set records for the number of seats lost after 8 years.

The track record is there for Obama to take power in a big way and then screw it up as Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush have.

So, I can see why some Republicans just want to ride it out and wait for the Democrats to screw up.

Two theories:
One - power corrupts both Democrats and Republicans
Two - every time a President is elected the party thinks it has a huge mandate and drags the country too far in one direction.

(1) absolutely.

I don't know about (2) in all cases. In Clinton's case, for example, after he got burned by the health care issue (which was perhaps a case of (2)), he stayed pretty centrist and had a rational economic policy and boom times. His impeachment, which was sparked by a corruption of power on his part, made him toxic as a campaigner in 2000. Given Gore's razor-thin popular vote win/electoral vote loss, if Clinton had been able to campaign for Gore, Gore would probably have won the WH.

The Bush/Gore election was interesting in so many ways. The ironic thing was the failure of Gore to win either his home state or President Clinton's home state. If he would have won either one he would have been elected.

The ironic thing was the failure of Gore to win either his home state or President Clinton's home state

It's like rain on your wedding day, don't you think?

Though perhaps a fly in your chardonnay or a free ride when you've already paid would be a more apt comparison.

Exile, like life, you have a funny way.