Tuesday, February 3, 2009

'You know where he stands'

Dave Weigel interviewed a Republican activist from Virginia at the RNC meeting:
According to Chase, what the Republicans needed was more clarity, more conservatism, and more exposing of how the Democrats wanted to run people’s
lives -- how they wanted to decide which baby birds got the worms. "I supported Mitt Romney, because John McCain was not a real conservative," Chase said. Chase has been given new hope by her party's unanimous vote in the House of Representatives against the stimulus package. Going into [Friday's] vote for Republican National Committee chairman, Chase supported Katon Dawson, the conservative head of the South Carolina Republican Party. "He's a fantastic messenger," Chase explained. "You know where he stands."
Like you knew where George Allen stood. The operative word here is "you," by which Jo-Ann Chase means to indicate the conservative base, who require constant assurance that their candidate is a True Believer who is with them 100% on every issue, or else they fear they're being sold out.

This kind of political paranoia, this obsessive fear that your Republican friends are not really your friends -- and perhaps not really Republican -- has a basis in fact. (Cf., presidents named "Bush.") But it is stoked to the point of psychopathology by certain prominent people (I won't name names) who don't seem to understand a fundamental principle of coalition politics: You can't govern if you don't win.

I share with Ms. Chase her disdain for John McCain, for whom I would never vote if you put a gun to my head. But at some point, you have to get over that particular species of recto-cranial inversion which tells you that Katon Dawson is what the RNC needs at this desperate juncture. Katon Dawson would have been fine when the party was at its zenith of power circa 2003. At this point, however, he simply will not do.

That isn't really Katon Dawson's fault, nor Jo-Ann Chase's fault, but it is the reality of the situation, and conservatives who want to live in a cloud-cuckooland where every swing voter understands what is meant by "true Republican principles" have got to get a grip on reality, or else the GOP will go the way of the Whigs.

The Republican Party's problems may not really be as bad as they look right now, in the immediate aftermath of S.S. Maverick's encounter with the Obama iceberg, but solving those problems will require some very shrewd messaging and very shrewd messengers, and if Jo-Ann Chase wants to do something to save her party from further disasters, she needs to get her prayer circles working for Michael Steele. He's gonna need all the help he can get.


  1. "The Republican Party's problems may not really be as bad as they look right now..."

    Yo, RS.Really enjoying the last week or so of postings.
    Your blogging on the demise of Culture11 and related topics has been enlightening. I've posted the question before about why it is that this election loss in particular has been so jarring to Republicans and you cleared that up for me a bit.
    The problem for you guys is that you think you have an image problem, where I think that the real issue is one of relevant ideological problems tied to cultural attitudes that Conservatives cling to.

    Hence, the Michael Steele selection.I read the link to the Washington Insider and I came across some very curious quotes from Republicans, such as the
    "monopoly on history" quote and so forth.If this doesn't exemplify the ass-backwards mentality of Republicans I don't know what does.
    David Duke recently commented on the Steele selection and he had quite alot to say.This is also indicative of the deep divide in the Republican coalition. There were others within the party that suggested that Steele was an unprincipled choice and that his "blackness" helped him.Hmmm.....
    (BTW, what is your take on the Duke comments?)

    You can put lipstick on a pig,right?
    The question is how does your party appeal to a changing demographic when your party insists on holding onto a Cold War mentality? When your party elevates the likes of Rush and Coulter to hero status? I think this presidential election was a paradigm shift that Republicans and Conservatives in particular were trying to prevent.The idea that Cons now need to change is valid, but an image makeover is like the cart leading the horse. Call it the free-market principle for politics.The brand stinks.A new snazzy logo just won't do.

  2. Conservatives did not lose this last election. John McCain lost this last election. He did not lose it by being too conservative. He lost it by scaring conservatives and reminding them of how many times he has thwarted or insulted them in the past.

    McCain ran a dreadful campaign that did only one thing right, bringing in Sarah Palin, and they even managed to screw that up.

    We'll see if the Republican party can pull itself back together. The House vote on the pork package was a heartening sign of life. Mr. Steele seems a good candidate for furthering the conservative cause without alienating or alarming moderates. Let's see how this plays out.

    For better or worse, Republicans are held to a higher standard than Democrats. This is a burden, but it is a good thing. We're better than them.