Monthly Archives: January 2015

Why Breaking Up The Republican Study Committee Is A Good Thing


 

“If everyone is special, then no one is”.

That line from The Incredibles is a very important one to remember in a world where “participation” and “trying” are prized above winning and results.

In the Republican caucus of the House of Representatives “conservative” is a label almost everyone applies to themselves and in doing so they have devalued the term.

That’s what is leading to the fracturing of the House’s premiere conservative group, “The Republican Study Committee”.

Once a bastion for the conservative movement, the RSC has strayed too far from its original mission and been co-opted by the same party leaders it is meant to exert pressure upon, the members believe.

The new group, which does not yet have a name, is being de-facto led by former RSC Chairman Jim Jordan, although the formal leadership structure could change.

The new group is a direct rebuke of RSC Chairman Bill Flores, who after he won election over Mulvaney told the press that he does not believe the RSC’s core mission should be to put pressure on leadership.

The group was founded in 1973 when liberal Republicans like Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon (yes, Nixon was a liberal Republican) were making deals to expand the reach of government. The few conservative members of the House wanted to create an alternative policy group to push the debate to the right.

An idea was taking shape. These conservative House members decided in the long term to target Minority Leader Gerald Ford, whom they saw as a moderate deal-maker rather than a principled conservative. (Ford, foreshadowing the frustration to be felt by future House leaders, fancied himself a conservative but found it impossible to earn the trust from his right wing.) “We said, ‘If Jerry Ford isn’t getting any pressure from the right, the only way he’s going to go is left,’ ” Feulner recalls.

First, though, the conservatives went hunting for bigger game. President’s Nixon’s welfare plan contained a provision to guarantee Americans a certain annual income—a notion that horrified right-wingers in both chambers of Congress. So Crane had Feulner reach out to conservative aides in the Senate in the hope of joining forces to defeat Nixon’s plan. Soon, Feulner was working with Paul Weyrich, a young staffer for Sen. Gordon Allott of Colorado, and other conservative Hill aides. The group persuaded the governor of California—a popular conservative named Ronald Reagan—to testify against the plan before the Senate Finance Committee. The measure eventually failed, and Reagan rewarded Crane by coming to meet with him in the Capitol. Looking back, Feulner says his work with Weyrich, who later founded the Heritage Foundation, laid the groundwork for what would eventually become the Republican Study Committee.

While the group has had several incarnations over the years, it’s always been a place for the most conservative members to band together to pull the GOP to the right.

As “conservative” became the defacto label for Republicans more and more members joined the group event thought they weren’t really movement conservatives. That’s led to a watering down to the groups positions and its willingness to take on leadership.

Currently there are 170 members (out of 245 Republicans total) of the RSC, that’s almost 70% the entire caucus. This is no longer a select group of members who want to pull the party to conservative policies but a box many moderate members have to check to keep up appearances back home.

Critics of the split, like Noah Rothman of Hot Air, say the move puts purity over effectiveness.

What might be accomplished as part of an organization with a track record of success, one designed to serve as the House Republican leadership’s conservative conscience, will now be far more difficult as these members have intentionally sidelined themselves. By creating a sequestered group that achieves nothing more than self-validation and facilitates only the nursing of grievances, these conservative members have embraced marginalization. As members of a small minority House GOP Conference, these conservative insurrectionists might enjoy more success in this endeavor. As part of a large, diverse majority GOP Conference, the broadest Republican majority the nation has seen since the 1920s, they can be safely ignored.

The threat of House conservatives to walk out of the RSC is not strategy, it’s petulance. And no one will welcome this maneuver more than the Republican leaders they are supposedly protesting.

This critique misses the point of the group. It’s not just a voting bloc trying to win the odd concession from the moderate leadership. It’s supposed to be the engine room of conservative policy creation and messaging.

There’s a time for pragmatism in politics but there’s also a time for firebrand campaigning.

When the insurgents become the establishment it is necessary to shake things up again. To maintain a healthy internal debate and to prevent atrophy, it’s vital that some faction of the ruling group maintain a curiosity and energy for change. It’s easy to rest on your laurels and say, “we’ve won, we can stop fighting now”. Surely no conservative looks at the House GOP and says the fight is done. The right needs an energetic base within the governing wing to push and prod the establishment from getting comfortable. Comfort in politics means a slow and steady drift to the left.

That almost everyone wants to be called a conservative now is a victory for those who started the RSC over 40 years ago. But that doesn’t mean that just because people call themselves conservative they are. There are more policy and political fights for conservatives to win. It’s going to take a new generation of conservatives to redefine the term, to breath life into the timeless ideals and to bring an energy to the fight that will rally others to the cause.

When everyone is a conservative, no one is. Hopefully this new group will shake up the comfortable consensus and continue to force the GOP in more conservative directions

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Dear Mitt,

Dear Mitt,

I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye. And I know I’ve been tough on you in the past but you need to hear this from someone…drop this idea of running again.

It must stick in your craw that you lost to an idiot like Barack Obama. But that’s the problem, you…lost…to…an…idiot…like…Barack…Obama. Yes, defeating an incumbent President is hard but it’s a lot easier in times of economic distress (see Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, granted he invented his own time of distress but “it’s the economy stupid” carried the day). Even with crushing levels of unemployment, anemic growth and fear that when ObamaCare kicked in things would get even worse…you LOST.

Yes, you’ve been proven right about some things since then. About that, they weren’t really all that hard to see. Plenty of people were warning about the threat Russia posed, the danger of Obama’s Iraq policies, the overall path of the country.

And yet, you…lost…to…Barack…Obama.

We can talk about all the reasons you lost but <a href=”http://nypost.com/2012/11/09/what-voters-want-a-prez-who-cares/”>only one of them really matters</a>.

<blockquote>Mitt Romney won among voters who chose three of those characteristics: shares my values, is a strong leader and has a vision for the future. What’s more, he carried them heavily, by between nine and 23 points. In all, 79 percent of voters selected one of these characteristics.

Romney lost because he lost among those who chose the remaining characteristic — by 63 points, 81-18. That characteristic? Cares about people like me.</blockquote>

Voters will forgive or overlook a lot of things but not caring about them isn’t one of them.

Yes, you can complain about idiot voters who make this decisions based on the feels but it doesn’t matter. No candidate gets to tell voters on what basis they will cast their vote. The candidate’s job is to deal with voters as they are, not as they wish them to be. Now, it’s going to be very hard, if not impossible, for any Republican to win the feelings cohort outright but you have to do better than -63%.

No “I told you so” campaign is going to move that number.

Yes, voters may say they regret voting for Barack Obama in 2012 but that doesn’t mean they would vote for you if given the chance to do it all again. Public opinion polls are conducted in a vacuum. Elections aren’t. If they were “Generic Republican” would win every time. Campaigns however involve a choice between two real live candidates that people then have to pick between. When it really counted, when people have to pick between you and the deeply flawed and failing Barack Obama… YOU LOST.

I know this hurts. You’re a proud man who has known great success. You were caricatured in unfair and nasty ways last time. Of course your inability to counter those gross distortions was one of the main reasons why giving you another chance is a laughable proposition.

I believe you care deeply about this country and you honestly think you are indispensable to its future. Here you are wrong. As far as the country is concerned (as distinct from family and friends) you’re a politician and let’s be frank, not a very good one. You were beaten by a failed President who has done much damage to this country and who in the world of business wouldn’t even get an appointment with you. That’s got to sting.

You’ve achieved some level of redemption with the way things worked out and how many in the party embraced you during the midterms. Bank those wins and ride off into the sunset. Coming back into the fray is like Willie Mays trying to hang on in the early 70s with the Mets. It was embarrassing for everyone involved. Unlike Willie, you didn’t have a Hall of Fame career before the fall that blots out the sad last chapter. Take what you have and be happy with it.

As I said, I’m not a fan so you can just write this off as more hate mail but consider this. My urging you to stay out of the race is an admission against interest. If you run, you’ll battle with Jeb and Christie. It will be hilarious to watch three guys who represent so much of what I hate about the GOP rip each other apart.

It’s not just entertainment I’d be forgoing with you skipping another run. Your participation would make it easier for a candidate I might actually support like Rand Paul or Scott Walker to win the nomination. With you on the sidelines it becomes more likely that Jeb Bush would win and I’d have to either sit out 2016 or hope the Libertarian Party nominates someone who isn’t certifiably insane (and what are the odds of that).

Huh.

You know what Mitt? Now that I think about it, forget what I’ve said. You are the man the GOP and America needs right now. Like Obi-Wan, you are our only hope. You were robbed last time and Americans are longing to show you how wrong we were and are begging you to sacrifice your comforts so that we may make amends.

In closing…

RUN MITT, RUN!

We Are Not All Charlie Hebdo

charliehebdo

Inevitably the massacre at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has spawned a hashtag, #JeSuisCharlie and the English #IAmCharlie are trending worldwide.

At the risk of being an internet scold, these cheap “look at me” tweets are insulting.

I wouldn’t flatter myself by pretending I have the courage of the men and women who put out that magazine. They risked everything and ultimately many of the paid with their lives to keep the barbarians outside the gates. Let us not kid ourselves…they were better than us. We should remember them that way. We are not Charlie, those who worked and died there were. It set them apart from us. We should recognize that and celebrate them for it.

What is left to us is to continue their work, honor them and punish those who would sellout to their killers.

Hollywood Is Run By Idiots…American Sniper Edition

Interesting story about the making of American Sniper. It seems that it almost didn’t happen.

In fact, after so many failed films about the wars in Iraq ( Green Zone, Redacted, In the Valley of Elah , the list goes on), Hollywood seemed completely cold to Kyle’s story.

Hmmm. What could possibly be the difference between those movies and American Sniper? Oh right, Kyle is a hero (apparently a troubled and flawed one, you know, like in real life, but still a hero) and not the bad guy or a victim of America’s evil.

And how is this crazy new approach working out?

“American Sniper” turned its Oscar-qualifying run into a record-breaker this weekend, posting the top four-day limited box-office debut of the year, and the best ever during the Christmas period.

The Clint Eastwood-directed Iraq War saga starring Bradley Cooperand Sienna Miller brought in $850,000 from four theaters over the four days, an eye-popping $212,000 per-location average for distributor Warner Bros.

Well, in fairness to the geniuses who run Hollywood studios it’s not like anyone could have predicted this. Oh wait, I did. SEVEN YEARS AGO when Lions for Lambs came out and bombed.

Memo to Hollywood…we don’t hate America as much as you do. Want to make some money? Make a movie where Americans are the good guys and the terrorists are the bad guys. It’s not like there’s a shortage of stories that fit the bill.

If you run a major studio and would like to talk to me about consulting or co-production gigs, call me. Don’t email. I don’t trust your IT security.