Newt Gingrich has taken up arms in the GOP Civil War and he’s set his sites on power broker Karl Rove. In a scathing op-ed written for the popular right wing newsletter, Human Events, Gingrich both manages to correctly skewer Rove and the consultant machine that runs the GOP establishment while completely missing the larger problem the Republican Party has: their message.
Newt starts on the right path:
I strongly support RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ effort to think through the lessons of 2012 and develop a better path for the Republican Party.
However there are going to be some very powerful opponents to any serious rethinking of Republican doctrines and strategies.
It is appalling how little some Republican consultants have learned from the 2012 defeat.
It is even more disturbing how arrogant their plans for the future are.
(In case you’re wondering, yes, the entire op-ed is written in this style, i.e. for a junior high school class.)
Now, Newt is 100% correct so far. The GOP took away all the wrong lessons from 2012’s crushing defeat. He continues:
I am unalterably opposed to a bunch of billionaires financing a boss to pick candidates in 50 states. This is the opposite of the Republican tradition of freedom and grassroots small town conservatism.
No one person is smart enough nor do they have the moral right to buy nominations across the country.
That is the system of Tammany Hall and the Chicago machine. It should be repugnant to every conservative and every Republican.
If that’s not the strongest condemnation possible of Citizens United by a well-known conservative, I don’t know what is. And again, Gingrich is correct. Rove had positioned himself as a kingmaker (as well as a kingbreaker) by using his massive war chest to both support “worthy” candidates as well as viciously attack opponents.
No democracy worth the name should be beholden to the rich the way ours currently is. Every single instance in history where money completely controls the political system shows that the kind of corruption Newt highlights is the result. Curiously, Newt only mentions Tammany Hall (unions) and Chicago (Obama). He could have just as easily mentioned the Robber Barons (the 1% of the 19th Century) or the decades long campaign of Big Tobacco to buy the political capital needed to stay in the business of deliberately addicting its customers to a lethal product. But this is an op-ed in a conservative newsletter so why burden the readers with all that anti-capitalist nonsense?
Newt even manages to almost hit the nail on the head, just once, on the GOP’s lack of substance:
Latinos worry about getting health insurance and health care. A Republican candidate who had a better health idea could have had great appeal. A Republican candidate who was merely anti-Obamacare (and therefore seen as anti-healthcare) would lose that contest. But wasn’t it Stevens’ job as chief consultant to design that before the campaign, not to explain its failure afterwards?
So close! Well no, it’s wasn’t the consultant’s job to come up with policy; it was the big brains at the GOP that was supposed to do that. But they didn’t. Well, actually, they sort of did. Obamacare, after all, was a Republican idea from the 90’s when they needed an alternative to Hillary Clinton’s health care proposal. It’s not just that the GOP was opposed to Obamacare, they were opposed to Obama. Period. End of story. There was no counteroffer to Obamacare because the GOP has lost the ability to come up with actual policy. Their entire platform has degenerated into pathetic Culture War garbage (Women are sluts! Gays are evil!) and opposing anything and everything Obama puts forth. Even when it was their own idea.
After this almost moment of insight, Gingrich flies off the rails and blame the GOP’s inability to adapt to social media:
The depth of Republican obsolescence on communications technology was highlighted in this comment:
“STEVENS: Really made — if I had tweeted in this campaign this whole discussion we’ve been having about the second amendment would probably be replaced one about the first amendment and whether it should apply to tweeting.”
Cute but insulting. Republicans will not understand why we are losing younger Americans so badly until we realize how many of our consultants don’t have a clue and don’t intend to change.
Well, yes and no. The Obama campaign certainly ran circles around the Romney campaign in terms of targeted advertising and fund raising. But was it just the out reach that cost the GOP so dearly? Newt certainly seems to think so:
The technology problem is a culture problem. I mean the Democrats had 54 data analysts and were hiring Ph.Ds in advanced math because they were using the most advanced decision processes in the country. They were bringing in behavioral scientists. They were trying to figure out how you talk to 311 million people and do so in a way that you can survive 8 percent unemployment and get re-elected and it worked.
“Now, I think it’s actually — he’s right in a sense it’s a cultural problem. None of our consultants would have imagined hiring 54 people in the decision area, none of them would have imagined having 24 people [who] did nothing full-time except e-mails and then blind tested the best e-mails to see which ones worked. I mean, this — they are a Super Bowl team that we ought to respect deeply. And we are currently a midlevel college team floundering around and I agree. It’s not just — you can’t just go out and buy this, this is a fundamental rethinking of how you relate to the American people.”
And he fumbles at the five yard line! Sorry, Newt, it’s not just the system of delivery that was deeply flawed; it was the entire message. All of it. The Republican Party has gone so far to the right that it has utterly lost touch with both reality and the average American. The GOP has gone on the record, repeatedly, as being opposed to gay marriage, gay rights, heck, gay anything! They actively opposed women’s reproductive rights, women’s privacy, equal pay for women, justice for women that have been raped (legitimate? REALLY?!), for god’s sake, the GOP is opposed to birth control pills! They attack Latinos and Blacks as lazy, stupid and greedy thieves taking money from White people. They actively agitate for a new war in the Middle East and the indefinite continuation of the one we already have. They scream bloody murder at the idea of raising taxes on the rich but fight tooth and nail to keep the loopholes that keep the rich from paying what they already owe. Wall Street banks crashed the economy and the GOP wants everyone to sacrifice to clean up the mess. Everyone except for the banks, that is. They still deserve those bonuses, you see.
This is the message of the GOP. How you get that message out is irrelevant. The message itself is toxic and it’s become impossible in the age of the internet to fool people like in the good old days of “Trickle Down Economics.” That genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going back in, Newt. Shining a turd and covering it with perfume won’t change the fact that it’s still a turd and until the GOP figures out that its politics are fundamentally repulsive to the majority of Americans, they’re going to keep losing outside of their gerrymandered strongholds.