As is too often the case, Republicans are busy snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Despite the fact that the Obamacare debacle has been playing out before Americans’ eyes for more than three weeks, the RNC has done absolutely nothing to capitalize on the fact. Jonah Goldberg suggests at least sending out a letter:
If I was writing it, I would say something like, “The president vowed to you on numerous occasions (see attached document) that you could keep your insurance and that you would save money under the Affordable Care Act. This was untrue. Whether it was a well-intentioned mistake or a more deliberate deception, what the president and his party told you was flatly untrue, and we said so at the time.”
I then might go on to promise something like “the party will do everything it can, within its power, to alleviate the burden the Democrats have imposed on you and the country. We are of course limited by the fact that the president and his party control the agenda in Washington. If you think we’re due for a change, we’d love your support. If you think these changes are good for you, your family or the country, then obviously we politely disagree. If you think — as we do — that there’s got to be a better way, we hope you’ll give us a fresh look.”
That’s a nice letter. Without condescension, it reminds voters that the Republicans predicted and tried to stop this train wreck, it offers that Republicans will do whatever is in their power to help remedy the situation, and it reminds voters that the best remedy is a Republican majority in 2014 and again in 2016.
Goldberg’s good advice notwithstanding, Republicans are silent — or, if they’re not silent, they’re still engaged in a bloody internecine war that leaves innumerable openings for Democrats to blame everyone from Cruz, to Bush, to Nixon, to generic Republicans for Obamacare.
Last night, 60 Minutes, while coyly keeping both Hillary’s and Obama’s names out of the story, revealed what conservatives have long known about Benghazi: it was a carefully planned al Qaeda attack; al Qaeda warned everyone and his mother that it would take place; embassy security in Benghazi was a joke; the administration had been told repeatedly about the attack and about the security situation; and the administration did precisely nothing before or during the attack.
Now that 60 Minutes has broken the wall of silence, this should be a headline story in every paper and on every TV show in the land. But of course it’s not. And with the exception of Lindsey Graham, who’s doing some huffing and puffing, Republicans are sitting there with their thumbs in their mouths.
John McCain is going one step further, and praising Hillary to high Heaven. (Could it be that McCain is being Machiavellian here? One could argue that McCain hasn’t abandoned the idea of running for president in 2016. He wants an opponent who will be easy to beat and, with the Benghazi albatross around her neck, McCain thinks she’s that opponent. Did I just hear you say that’s an insanely stupid idea that gives McCain too much credit? I think you’re right. Forget I ever said it.)
We tend to see the Democrats as winning through lies, chicanery, media manipulation, and outright fraud (not to mention the whole IRS thing). I do think, though, that we have to acknowledge that it’s not just that the Democrats win elections. The Republicans lose elections.
McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012 were both abysmal candidates under any standards. This isn’t to say whether they would have been good or bad presidents (although I suspect either would have been significantly better than Obama). The problem began and ended with their campaigns: both were boring speakers; both were flat-footed debaters; both were utterly incapable of articulating core conservative values that bind together everyone from libertarians to the fading Reagan Democrat coalition; both failed to recognize the internet’s importance in their campaigns; and both were afraid to get their hands dirty in dealing with a black man (although McCain has always been happy to fight his own political family).
My feeling now is that if Chris Christie or Ted Cruz throw their hats into the ring, and if they can survive the inevitable circular firing squad from fellow Republicans fighting in the primaries, one or the other will top the ticket. This has nothing to do with whether they’ll be good presidents (although I’m sure each would be substantially better than anyone the Democrats dredge up). Both, however, will be good candidates. Unlike McCain and Romney — and unlike Obama, Hillary, and Warren — these guys are so fast on their feet that they can wow people by giving extemporaneous speeches without teleprompters and notes, and they’ll never fall into “um” or “uh” land the way Obama, McCain, and Romney did. Debates will be enjoyable blood baths, with the Democrats doing the (rhetorical) bleeding.
When it comes to articulating a conservative position, Cruz will have the edge over Christie. Christie has proven that, for the most part, his conservative beliefs begin and end with defanging the unions. I respect that, I really do, but it’s going to leave him rudderless and speechless when it comes to articulating ideas that can actually win people over to something grander than union bashing.
Both will have to tone down their arrogance. Unlike Obama, who floated through life on an affirmative action cloud, both these men are indeed smarter than most people, and they have the resumes to prove it — not just jobs obtained, but actual accomplishments. Since the media will not be able to portray them as idiots, as it did with George Bush and John McCain, it will have to go the Romney route with both: they’re evil plutocrats, a la Snidely Whiplash, just dreaming of ways to tie the American people to some foul capitalist railway track to let them die. Since both tend to be arrogant, they’re going to have to find some humility, or else this media charge will stick and destroy them.
Significantly, they’re both guys who live for the fight. Christie’s going to have a bit of a hard time overcoming his bromance with Obama, but Cruz is going to come out swinging, and will take no prisoners regardless which Democrat ends up representing that ticket.
The fact that both Christie and Cruz are lawyers is disappointing. It would be splendid to see someone other than a lawyer in the White House. As an ex-military guy, Allen West would be a delightful addition to the presidential roster, but I just don’t see it happening. I think the world of him, I admire his principles, I believe he’s a fighter, and he’s a good speaker, but even by the low standards Obama set, a two-year tenure in the House probably isn’t going to convince the American people to elect West president.
Do you have predictions for 2016? I know it’s a long time away, but it’s worth thinking about now, both because it’s a pleasant diversion from depressing headlines and because the headlines about Obamacare, Benghazi, and the economy are tarnishing the Democrat brand.
Assuming that the Republicans can stop fighting each other and start riding the anti-Democrat wave, what should they do? And who would you like to see getting groomed for the 2016 White House?