May 11, 2008
Got Message?

Much talk over this weekend of bad news a'coming for the GOP this fall. There is many a fair point to be had in such discussions, which seemed to rise in fervor after Newt Gingrich's five-alarm alert.

Gingrich smartly outlines the macro problems facing Republicans, even if he seems a bit hyperbolic about a race lost by a bad candidate in Louisiana and despite the fact his proposed agenda comes across as a semi-worthless exercise in small-ball politics. A couple other pundits more correctly clarify matters.

First, David Frum, in a discussion of how Republicans can't rely on Dukakising Obama:

The country has changed since 1988. Polls capture a shift to the left on economic issues. The once decisive tax issue has faded altogether, and no wonder: 80 per cent of Americans now pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes. Americans care less about taxes than healthcare and fuel prices, issues where Republicans offer few solutions and speak with something less than passionate urgency.

Second, Kimberly Strassel, discussing the recent Louisiana race and related issues:

With Democrats actively recruiting conservative candidates [for competitive Congressional seats], it's no longer good enough for the GOP names to fall back on cultural credentials, to demagogue immigration, or to simply promise lower taxes. Voters care about the size of government, but they are equally worried about the cost of doctor visits and gas prices. The winners will be those who explain the merits of a private health-care reform, who talk about vouchers, who push for energy production. And given its reputation on ethics, it's clear the GOP has to recruit Mr. Cleans, who also make voters believe they are more interested in solving problems than bringing home pork.

One can nitpick here and there with some of Frum and Strassel's particulars, but the point remains: have an agenda, and make it relevant.

Loyal readers of this blog know this writer has long lamented the inability of some in the GOP, both on the national and state stage, to speak to the issues that matter to many voters. Yes, many of the issues that have dominated partisan discourse in recent years still matter. But, GOP candidates are going to have enough of a headwind this year without the added problem of not connecting with voters not firmly tied to the Republican Party.

Beyond the obvious national security issues relevant in federal elections, especially the Presidency, candidates better be able to talk about health care and gas prices (and thus broader energy policy) with some skill. Those seeking office in Olympia better likewise be able to bring something constructive and compelling to the table on education and transportation.

Even as conservatives salivate over some of Obama's weaknesses, it would be foolish not to recognize 2008 could still be a brutal year for the GOP. Locally, Dino Rossi is running a campaign that is a model of trying to bring relevant, conservative solutions to the issues that voters care about - and regarding which the record of the status quo establishment is decidedly weak.

Nationally, McCain isn't known for being able to carry such a domestic-oriented vision with clarity and passion. Let's hope he can address that, in part with the help of a solid VP nominee who can help carry that banner. In the meantime, local Republicans hoping to avoid being swamped should follow the Rossi model. It's the best one out there in the Evergreen State.

UPDATE: Comment JK has been banned. He's our old friend "Steve/Conservative not Republican," etc. The one soul I've ever banned from commenting on my posts, which should tell you something.

Posted by Eric Earling at May 11, 2008 08:59 PM | Email This
Comments
1. We just loved the post at Politico:

"John McCain is planning to run as a different kind of Republican. But being any kind of Republican seems like some sort of death sentence these days.

In case you've been too consumed by the Democratic race to notice, Republicans are getting crushed in historic ways both at the polls and in the polls.

At the polls, it has been a massacre. In recent weeks, Republicans have lost a Louisiana House seat they had held for more than two decades and an Illinois House seat they had held for more than three. Internal polls show that next week they could lose a Mississippi House seat that they have held for 13 years.

In the polls, they are setting records (and not the good kind). The most recent Gallup Poll has 67 percent of voters disapproving of President Bush; those numbers are worse than Richard Nixon's on the eve of his resignation. A CBS News poll taken at the end of April found only 33 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the GOP -- the lowest since CBS started asking the question more than two decades ago. By comparison, 52 percent of the public has a favorable view of the Democratic Party.

Things are so bad that many people don't even want to call themselves Republicans. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has found the lowest percentage of self-described Republicans in 16 years of polling.

"The anti-Republican mood is fairly big, and it has been overwhelming," said Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis. "

That pretty much says it all.

Posted by: Unkl Witz on May 11, 2008 08:58 PM
2. With today's immigration policies set by Bush, McCain and the democrats, you can kiss the Republican party goodbye.

Posted by: saxa on May 11, 2008 09:32 PM
3. We've finally got a candidate who is in the mainstream of American politics: recognition of global warming; supports stem cell research; supports ending pregnancies in certain dire circumstances; is correct on taxation; is not a religious nut but has garnered the support of the religious nuts. All this and he can keep us safe, and won't dismantle or disgruntle the military. I was delighted today to read in the New York Times that Washington and Oregon are very much in play in the 2008 presidential --that would be the first time since Reagan. Believe me, if any other of the GOP candidates had been nominated, we woldn't have this ray of hope.
This is the Republican Party I've been waiting for to return since the 1970's. The mainstream has been waiting for another realignment.

Posted by: BART on May 11, 2008 09:39 PM
4. I'm working within the assumption that McCain will win, and that win will signal an opportunity for Republicans to build, or re-build, the party.

It's not going to be the party it has been, since the mid-70's, but I don't see how that is, in and of itself, a necessarily bad thing.

I am hoping for a re-alignment. This may be the year.

Posted by: OregonGuy on May 11, 2008 09:57 PM
5. Unkl, and so what is your democratic side offering up these days as your savior?

A Black Liberation Theology Marxist.

I truely do hope you can pull this off, it will be an administration along with Pelosi's 22% approval rates to really watch.

Watch out what you wish for!

Posted by: GS on May 11, 2008 09:59 PM
6. And what are we offering, a guy with an advisor who tells Americans of Hispanic descent to think of Mexico first?

Posted by: Ida on May 11, 2008 10:24 PM
7. Oregonguy wants to go back to a Pre Reagan Republican party.

When he talks about re-alignment he is talking about cutting conservatives out of political influence with the Republican Party.

Conservatives if you vote for McCain in your hatred of Obama you are really doing yourselves in.

Posted by: Ida on May 11, 2008 10:29 PM
8. The communications dept. of the GOP is so lackluster, they might as well be claimed as an "In kind service" to the democrat party.
They won't get the message out about what the dems DIDN'T get done the first 100 days and the disasters since dems control.
Oh but under McCain, they don't play in the mud like that eh?

Posted by: PC on May 11, 2008 11:00 PM
9. Wiz, PLEASE stop banging your head against the wall. It just hurts your head and annoys the wall.

You people are proud to run a fringe left whack job just like you. And nothing will get the GOP healthier, faster than the nightmare of an Obama candidacy.

Posted by: Hinton on May 11, 2008 11:21 PM
10. The thing is all of the candidates on both sides suck.

None of them is Presidential material. Nor were there any real contenders even early on. The solid Americans with great charisma and leadership skills have long figured out that they can make a lot more money, do a lot more for their country, and with a lot less hassle, in the private sector. For the most part, only a really pathetic class of people seek political office at this point. And the vast majority are Democrat or other statists with small brains, who like to line up at the trough proudly. It's only because those types are the expected least common denominator scum that seek office, that Democrats are under the illusion that they are doing well.

We might one day have another real and principled leader, but for now, we are just biding time. I think that's why Progressives hate Rossi so much. He could emerge as that kind of leader. Note that I say "could." He has the right private sector roots, charisma and general leadership skills, but still too often we see such folks allow their principles to be corrupted to the point that they fall back in to the miasma of the political landscape.

Posted by: Jeff B. on May 11, 2008 11:35 PM
11. Jeff B. as usual you have hit the nail on the head. None of these candidates are worht giving a look too, but I think I have found one that is:

http://www.jeffdunham.com/walter.php

Posted by: TrueSoldier on May 12, 2008 03:11 AM
12. Follow the Rossi model? What is that exactly... lose wait four years and do the same thing expecting different results?

Or is it to pretend you are for smaller state government but every chance you get talk about all the taxes you would collect and spend for us?

Has he proposed cutting one single state agency or program yet?

Posted by: Lysander on May 12, 2008 05:09 AM
13. Rossi has stated that he would be making cuts from ALL state programs on Robert Mak's show. His plan is to get with the heads of the agencies and go over each of their budgets to cut waste.

So what has Gregoire done to cut state costs anywhere? Oh right... She ut 1000 management jobs and replaced them with thousands and thouands of UNION jobs that ended up costing the taxpayer more money.

Look at it this way... at least someone in this state is talking about cutting back on spending.

Posted by: Ken on May 12, 2008 06:55 AM
14. The Newtster has been sounding a little whiny to me lately. I used to enjoy his insights, including warnings to Republicans, but I couldn't get excited about the latest and what he has been doing lately.

Posted by: swatter on May 12, 2008 07:20 AM
15. Rossi has stated that he would be making cuts from ALL state programs on Robert Mak's show.

First to go, Secretary of State's office. =P

Rossi claimed on KISW that Greigoire proposed a state Income Tax which was entirely untrue. Some nutzo member of the legislature did but it never went anywhere. Rossi like every politician will outright lie for political gain.

Posted by: Cato on May 12, 2008 09:31 AM
16. Have you noticed the only conservatives are on the radio or TV? None of them seem to want any part of running for office. Maybe it's skeletons in the closet or maybe it's the lousy pay, or maybe it's an evil plot by the mainstream media to hire conservatives out of politics and give them a show for a year - then cancel the show. But something is keeping the best conservative minds on the sidelines.
It's going to be a generation before we can actually raise up some good new conservative GOP blood. The current crop of Republicans is a disaster. Democrat-light is not going to cut it. McCain will not win.
The GOP needs to turn hard right and MAKE THEIR CASE! If they can't, then it will be the end of the country as we have known it. The whole country will look like Washington State. One party rule. Take the problems with traffic, ferries, infrastructure, education, immigration etc...and apply it to the whole country. That's where we're headed. It's going to get worse before it gets better, IF it gets better. With Democrats inviting in every illegal in the world, giving them public assistance and letting them vote - the demographics will turn permanently against conservatives. I'm thinking we're probably done as a free, soverign country.

Posted by: Scott on May 12, 2008 09:57 AM
17. Ken @13:
Rossi has stated that he would be making cuts from ALL state programs on Rober Mak's show. His plan is to get with the heads of the agencies and go over each of their budgets to cut waste.

Your second part negates your first. Rossi won't go on record on what to cut because he doesn't plan to cut anything. Instead he will force agency heads to be the scapegoats. How little you know about the way government works.

First, if Rossi wins, he gets to appoint the agency heads. Since, Democrats have controlled the governorship for so long, these agency heads will be coming in from the outside. Many here would say that is a good thing, which it may be on the long term. On the short term, however, these new heads will need several months to a year to figure out where the money is going and what to cut. To say Rossi will give them an ultimatum to cut X% is setting them up for failure.

Two, by leaving the cuts up to agency heads, you are setting up a political competition of which agency head can keep his kingdom the most in tack while devastating the other agencies. The game will have nothing to do with deciding what is best for the state. It will be a game of political one-up-manship.

Third, the agency heads can recommend, but in the end it is the legislature who actually approves the money. Therefore, in order to play this Rossi game, not only will the agency heads have to compete against each other, they need to take into consideration the political needs of the legislative committee's, which will be democratically controlled.

The end result. Rossi will claim he tried, and will blame the lack of results on his agency heads (who he appointed) and the legislature. All the while, Rossi sits back and shows an utter lack of leadership.

Real leadership would be taking the bull by the horns and stating up front your priorities and telling the voters and the legislature that these agencies are the priorities and that we need to stop doing XYZ. If you want to cut the budget, you need to cut programs. It takes a real leader to state up-front where there priorities are. The question is will either Rossi or CG even step up to the plate, or will they both cop-out with the same old political game of who can I pin the lack of results on?

Posted by: tc on May 12, 2008 10:38 AM
18. tc, the legislature may approve funding but the governor doesn't have to spend it.

Posted by: swatter on May 12, 2008 12:10 PM
19. I canvassed my neighborhood last week doing some polling and 90% are voting for Obama and (D) all down the line. It's an absolute disaster for Republicans. They might as well fold the party and we can be a true one-party rule like in Soviet Union.

Posted by: FreedomLover on May 12, 2008 12:22 PM
20. tc - how can you have real leadership in our "gimme a government handout" culture? Tell me.

Posted by: FreedomLover on May 12, 2008 12:24 PM
21. I canvassed my neighborhood last week doing some polling and 150% are voting for McCain and (R) all down the line. It's an absolute disaster for Democrats. They might as well fold the party and we can be a true one-party rule like their heroes in the Soviet Union.

Posted by: Hinton on May 12, 2008 12:45 PM
22. The problem with both the take on Newt's apocalyptic view and Eric's amen chorus is this:

Republicans have a message about those things we can (that is, that government can) actually impact. The key to political success is to avoid Eric's favorite position, that is, his efforts to out-democrat the democrats.

Further, the complaint side, for example, Eric's observation "Dino Rossi is running a campaign that is a model of trying to bring relevant, conservative solutions to the issues that voters care about - and regarding which the record of the status quo establishment is decidedly weak," fails to address the very issues Eric is complaining about.

There is a difference between those who "speak to the issues that matter to many voters" in the sense that Eric's position seems to be one of a sense that Republican candidates are babbling about issues that miss the target... that voters, apparently, DON'T care about the idea that smaller, more efficient government, an education system centered around children instead of teacher union thugs, transportation systems that expand capacity to match population... including increased road systems and decreased social engineering are issues that resonate. We're told that millions and millions of illegal aliens invading our country isn't of concern. The Republican take on health care, which rightfully centers on the issue of mandates as a major cause of increased prices, is, apparently, meaningless.

We're treated to concerns over GOP member ethics, as if the democrats do not have a much more sordid history in that regard... or at least a history equal to that of GOP members.

He would have us lie about fuel prices, much like the democrats lie about them. There is a sad element here of confusing motion with action, since neither Eric, Frum or Strassel (whoever the hell they might be) provide any solutions to any of these issues.

Since Dino and the other statewides will, most likely, start out 150,000 votes behind thanks to the hard work of the King County GOP organization, I would suggest that Eric and those who view things through his particular lense start there... and show us how it's done.

In fact, maybe Eric can go into Frank Chopp's district and take him out. After all, it's only a matter of "message," right?

Even before we move to the issue of "message," we must first deal with the issue of competence. Neither as a party nor as caucuses have they provided the electorate a reason to vote for the GOP. Even the top of the ticket in this state moronically tried to buy favor in King County by telling us that yes, in fact, we do need to divert 75 million tax dollars to the Sonics.

No, we don't. And that he believes it does will keep me from voting for him. And Eric? Coughing up $75 million for the Sonics in no way can be called a "conservative solution."

The GOP will only meet success only if they develop a competent infrastructure at the state and local level; an infrastructure that actually can reflect our changing demographic (Full time minority outreach, for example) an infrastructure that will identify and develop competent candidates, an infrastructure that will actually bring a message of change to an electorate used to getting hammered with unrealistic taxes, regulations and socialist double-speak; an infrastructure with a vision and a realistic strategy to achieve that vision.

And that, we do not have. And we will be democrat roadkill until we do.

Republicans in this state are doing a wide variety of things wrong. Increasing that burden by taking them off message and attempting to out-democrat the democrats is not the way.

I, personally, will never vote for someone just because of their label. I will not vote for a "Republican in name only" (Such as anyone affiliated or involved in the democrat front group known as the "Mainstream Republicans.") merely for the sake of achieving power. That means I'll be sitting out the presidential election and the governor's race

And if it takes voting for, and losing by, those same old Republicans that espouse Republican ideals, then so be it. Becoming that which we oppose, where the only difference is the label, is not the solution.

Posted by: Hinton on May 12, 2008 12:53 PM
23. I do know that if I get the double-whammy of McCain-Huckabee, I will rethink my vote for McCain. There is web talk of the Huckster being the top VP candidate today.

Posted by: swatter on May 12, 2008 01:49 PM
24. There is web talk of the Huckster being the top VP candidate today.

McCain tacks Right, bring in the Christian Coalition vote and possibly the white working class Americans. Huckleberry seems like a nice guy too, but his record on taxes doesn't mach up well with the current GOP talking points.

Who knows what someone might dig up if they started checking his old sermons. White southern Baptist preacher...could find some nasty stuff if there is anything to be found.

Not sure how having a VP who believes in creationism would go over in s swing state like Ohio/Penn. In the general one would expect the GOP to win both Arizona & Arkansas so he doesn't bring much into play there though maybe he could influence the South to swing more towards McCain.

If I were a betting man I'd lean more towards Mark Sanford or Tim Pawlenty, going outside the political realm I'd go for Fred Smith (Fed Ex CEO). Each of these individuals seems to have more to offer the party than Huckleberry does. Picking Huckleberry might give the appearance that McCain is pandering to the religious right rather than staying true to his independent character.

Posted by: Cato on May 12, 2008 02:13 PM
25. Cato @24:
Of course Pawlenty may have trouble on the homefront. The misses may not be too pleased with him blabbing on radio that they don't have a bedroom life.

Posted by: tc on May 12, 2008 03:39 PM
26. If you want to know why not to vote for McCain turn into Mark Levin tonight.

McCain is a socialist. If you don't believe me listen to Mark Levin on KVI tonight.

I am listening now on the Internet on a different channel and I knew McCain was bad but I didn't realize he was this bad!

Posted by: Larry on May 12, 2008 05:05 PM
27. What McCain has for America is just like the Soviet Union.

I didn't say that. MARK LEVIN DID.

I dare you to listen to Mark Levin tonight. If you do you won't be voting for McCain.

Posted by: Larry on May 12, 2008 05:13 PM
28. Wow, after listening to Mark Levin tonight it seems like McCain and Obama shouldn't be running against each other. They should be a single ticket.

When things get really bad, and they will get bad regardless of who wins, I want the Democrats to be blamed and that won't happen if McCain is elected.

Posted by: Larry on May 12, 2008 05:17 PM
29. Wow, Levin just clearly stated that McCain wants to turn us into the Soviet Union!

Posted by: Larry on May 12, 2008 05:24 PM
30. TC @ 17: Great post. That is exactly the point I keep making on deaf ears here. Rossi has not shown any leadership in policy. His supporters keep suggesting that the spending will decrease if we elect him but he has not proposed a single cut. In fact the opposite... He has proposed increase government spending (ferries, stadiums, etc...)

Swatter @ 18:
You can cut spending in todays culture by presenting it as Dr Paul has. Look at the following he got and waves he has made and that is WITHOUT most of the existing GOP party support. In fact he did it with the GOP party working against him. Just imagine if the party had embraced him instead!

Posted by: Lysander on May 12, 2008 06:10 PM
31. TC @ 17: Great post. That is exactly the point I keep making on deaf ears here. Rossi has not shown any leadership in policy. His supporters keep suggesting that the spending will decrease if we elect him but he has not proposed a single cut. In fact the opposite... He has proposed increase government spending (ferries, stadiums, etc...)

Swatter @ 18:
You can cut spending in todays culture by presenting it as Dr Paul has. Look at the following he got and waves he has made and that is WITHOUT most of the existing GOP party support. In fact he did it with the GOP party working against him. Just imagine if the party had embraced him instead!

Posted by: Lysander on May 12, 2008 06:11 PM
32. Any candidate supporting global warming is a flim-flam snake oil salesman. The so-called global warming scam will ruin our country for decades. Let me make it clearer. It will destroy the free enterprise system that has provided jobs and opportunity for the average man.

It is time to challenge these flim-flam snake oil salespeople. Lacking challenge we as a country will cease to enjoy prosperity. And no candidate is worth it.

Posted by: Snuffy on May 12, 2008 06:13 PM
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