Whither the GOP II: Word for word, the greatest headline ever written was “Headless Body in Topless Bar,” the New York Post’s slammer on its story about a gruesome decapitation murder committed at Herbie’s Bar, a Queens strip club, on April 13, 1983 (memo to obsessive copy desk types: spare us your email, “Ford to City: Drop Dead” ain’t even close).
With its punchiness and taut economy of language, the hed came to mind as we culled the web for posts pertaining to our oft-commented-on piece story offering some prescriptive advice to the dog-ass California Republican Party, and stumbled upon this trenchant analysis by Robert Cruickshank over at Calitics.
In short, California Republicans are fucked.
While one word longer than the Post’s iconic hed, and lacking its sheer wordsmithing poetry, the Oracle’s powerhouse proclamation nonetheless wins the Calbuzz “Herbie” Award for cut-to-the-bone storytelling, at a time when the uncertain future of the state Republican Party is the subject of far more wordy fulmination across the internets.
The data point of departure for most of the discussion is the L.A. Times/USC poll which found, among other things, that one in five voters say they would never vote for a Republican under any circumstance, and that large majorities of voters express principled contempt for GOP policies on key ideological issues like environmental regulation and immigration.
To our surprise, we found few offerings that suggest a pathway back to relevance for the GOP, in the positive and upbeat manner of, oh say, Calbuzz (“Issue Oriented – Solution Driven”) itself.
Among such scant offerings, a brave effort by Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy (who we early on did our best to gin up as a possible contender in the governor’s race) rose to the top of the heap. Writing over at Flashreport ,Foy noted the bevy of anti-government ballot initiatives just passed by voters and suggested that Republicans can attract them with “policies consistent with our conservative values and…new leaders who can inspire a new generation of California voters.”
Besides this murky proposal, what was truly notable in the piece was how Foy correctly pointed the finger directly at Meg Whitman’s crucial role in the party’s 2010 failure.
In 2010, I campaigned all across the state and met thousands of voters. While I didn’t sense open hostility towards Meg Whitman, her campaign generated a sort of hard-to-describe unease. Republican activists were detached from her candidacy.
While Whitman pledged to do many right and necessary things as governor, many felt her to be a stranger, despite seeing hundreds (if not more) of her campaign commercials. Paradoxically, the more ads they saw, the more ambiguous Whitman became. Try as she might, she appeared analytical and calculating, rather than heartfelt and energized…
This year, the Whitman campaign executed a corporate-style branding strategy with the most extensive communications effort in memory backed by more money than any state campaign in history. It utterly failed.
I believe it lacked any consequential connection to the public’s view of our state. It tried to entice voters, rather than engage them. And it tried to sell them on a product rather than persuade them in an ideal.
Beyond Foy’s manly effort, however, it appears that many among the still-sane sector of the CRP share the same view as Cruickshank, albeit more politely. Chief among this contingent is veteran GOP operative and analyst Tony Quinn who portrayed the plight of state Republicans in harshly stark terms:
Today’s California Republican Party is a regional party with declining registration and a lack of any presence at all in the San Francisco Bay Area and in all but a sliver of Los Angeles County. That is half the state where the Republican Party no longer exists.
The days of Republicans winning statewide office – other than with an Arnold Schwarzenegger – has certainly past.
Does this woman ever shut up: All right-thinking people agree that Sarah Palin couldn’t find her ass with two hands if she had a map. That being said, it greatly pains and baffles us why the mighty MSM and the Beltway Big Feet insist on treating her endless self-serving tweets and Facebook postings as if they were news, instead of third-rate press releases
When the media on Monday trumpeted coast to coast Palin’s insipid comments bashing Obama for the latest Wikileaks document dump, we at first thought our head would explode (Fortunately we averted disaster by breathing deeply and assuming Bikram yoga posture #15 – “Wind Removing Pose” – until regaining our emotional balance).
Here’s the thing: Whether Palin is defending childhood obesity , attacking Mark Halperin, backing her 16-year old brat’s use of homophobic slurs or mixing up North and South Korea doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the nation’s newsrooms and political press acts as if it does, as Huffpost blogger Mitchell Bard properly noted:
The real story, though, isn’t that Palin said “North” instead of “South.” Let’s be honest: Vice President Joe Biden could have just as easily blown a line like that.
No, the real story is that Palin was discussing a complex, precarious, highly dangerous issue as if she were an expert, even though she clearly isn’t.
Does anyone outside of Palin’s relatively small group of smitten followers honestly believe that she is competent to act as an expert on Korean policy? That she knows the intricacies and risks of engaging with the North Koreans? That she understands the possible leadership struggle going on there? Do you think she has the first clue about the history of Korea over the last century? Do you think she’s ever heard of Syngman Rhee, the Bodo League massacre, the Battle of Inchon, or National Security Council Report 68, or that she knows about the decades of Japanese rule in Korea? Do you think she’s ever read about the role the propaganda efforts of the post-Stalin Soviet government played in the eventual armistice that ended the fighting?
…That’s the real story about the Palin flub about North Korea that the media isn’t covering. It’s not that she misspoke, but that anyone cared what she had to say on the issue in the first place.
While many in the national GOP privately view with horror the specter of a Palin candidacy, few of them have the stones to denounce her, fearful of the wrath of her base among Jerry Springer Republicans. So it was refreshing to see MSNBC yakker and former congressman Joe Scarborough stand up and take her on:
Palin is not a stupid woman. But like the current president, she still does not know what she does not know. And she does know how to make millions of dollars, even if she embarrasses herself while doing it.
That reality hardly makes Palin unique, but this is one Republican who would prefer that the former half-term governor promote her reality shows and hawk her books without demeaning the reputations of Presidents Reagan and Bush. These great men dedicated their lives to public service and are too good to be fodder for her gaudy circus sideshow.
If Republicans want to embrace Palin as a cultural icon whose anti-intellectualism fulfills a base political need, then have at it. I suppose it’s cheaper than therapy.
But if the party of Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio wants to return to the White House anytime soon, it’s time that Republican leaders started standing up and speaking the truth to Palin.
Good for Scarborough, but we’re unconvinced that the spectacle of a Palin presidency is all that beyond imagination.
The plain fact is that Palin is a truly dangerous person, a narcissistic, anti-intellectual demagogue playing on the fears and prejudices of modern Know-Nothings for no substantial purpose beyond her own self-aggrandizement and thirst for power.
Democrats – and serious Republicans – who chortle and mock her chances of winning the presidency in 2012 do so at their peril, particularly if the race gets complicated by the entry of an independent, like Michael Bloomberg (or Palin, herself, after losing the GOP nomination) and the matter gets tossed to a House of Representatives controlled by right-wing Republicans.