The consultants in question are Mike Murphy and Steven Schmidt. Who they are is irrelevant, but know that they are part of this class of professional consultants who advise campaign after campaign and have done very poorly for the party. What brought this discussion on was the following comment from Murphy:
“The biggest problem that Romney had was the Republican primary. That's what's driving the Republican brand right now to a disaster, and we've got to get, kind of, a party view of America that's not right out of Rush Limbaugh's dream journal.”And this comment by Schmidt:
“You have these talk radio hosts making millions and millions and millions of dollars a year driving a message of complete and total ludicrous nonsense into the electorate, a lot of it poisonous.”Frankly, both comments are true. The primary pushes Republicans deep into the fringe and hurts them and the party, and Rush and other talkers are making millions by playing to the angry fringe, which again hurts the conservative brand by presenting it’s most angry 1% views as “the party.”
Rush responded by calling both men “establishment” and re-characterized Murphy’s statement thusly:
"'We need to get rid of conservatism,' is what is he's saying. 'We need to get rid of all these people shouting stupid conservative stuff.'"...and he said this of Schmidt:
“[These moderate consultants] go to every Republican candidate and they say, 'I'm the guy that can get you the independents. I'm the guy who can run your campaign and get you the moderates so that you will win.' And they do not win. They lose. . . and then after they lose and lose and lose, what do they do? Blame a guy on the radio.”And that’s true too. These guys do the same thing election after election, trafficking in their supposed experience, but their experience is all about losing and they point fingers, typically at conservatives, the moment it’s clear they’ve lost again.
So honestly, they both have a point, but it’s in the feud that the greater point lies.
Rush and talk radio have become absolutely poisonous. They spent the last four years as the headquarters of the “anybody but Romney” movement. They also spent that time ripping apart every Republican who raised their head as insufficiently pure. They destroyed good people. They sabotaged everything the Republicans did. But what made this worse was that they whipped up their followers over things that never happened. People like Rush started every broadcast for the past four years by whining about some Republican “surrender” they claimed was about to happen. Only, there was no surrender, the talkers invented it so they could sound more pure than “the weak establishment.” And when the Republicans didn’t surrender, the talkers didn’t admit their error, they claimed they were responsible for stopping this imagined surrender. In other words, they falsely accused the Republicans of being weak and then they falsely claimed they stopped the weakness. This poisoned the base against the party.
It also destroys the brand. Ask yourself how these talkers represent conservatism to the public? When was the last time anyone on talk radio did anything to sell conservatism to anyone? They don’t discuss policy, except to knee-jerk criticize those who do. They don’t come up with ideas or ways to reach out to people who aren’t already convinced. All they do is try to act more pure, try to act more outraged, and try to get publicity for their latest books. Do you think it helped the party with women that Rush called Fluke “a slut”? Do you think saying he wanted Obama to fail or calling him a socialist helped with anyone outside his audience?
But let’s not ignore the other side. These consultants are poisonous as well. For one thing, they simply don’t understand how to reach people. They have zero creativity and they fear change and innovation. . . they only want to do what others have done before, even though that doesn’t work. Moreover, they don’t grasp that politics is about selling your ideas to people who don’t have brains to understand them. And critically, they never have understood that image and perception are more real than reality and fact. They have let the brand decay into ruin with a bad sales strategy. And when these consultants fail, as they almost always do, they smear everyone involved. They attack conservatives and claim the party is “too extreme.” They attack moderates and claim they were “disloyal.” They attack the candidate as a fool. They tell lies to make it appear that “if only the party had listened to them, it all would have worked out.” Sound familiar? It’s the same game the talk radio guys play.
Reagan mentioned the Eleventh Commandment for a reason: never speak ill of another conservative. This is the reason. What these two groups are doing is highly destructive. They are using the party as a punching bag, all in the name of their own profit. And together, they are creating an image of a hateful party that is at war with itself as disloyal factions stab each other in the back. What moderate would want to join that family?
This needs to end. It’s time to focus on the people who look to the future, not the people who ruined the past. It’s time to support people with ideas and with an agenda that helps make Americans more conservative, not people who only look to enrich themselves with false claims of non-existent purity or fabricated disloyalty. It’s time for conservatism to be constructive again. Let’s see if we can’t find those people. :)