What are Republicans afraid of?
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and I are in complete agreement. Republicans should not simply ride a wave of voter anger and discontent without offering an alternative vision in the hope that it crashes them into the offices of the speaker of the House or the senate majority leader. But as Post writers Karen Tumulty and Paul Kane reported over the weekend, there are some GOP consultants out there who are advising just that.
"The smart political approach would be to make the election about the Democrats," said Neil Newhouse of the powerhouse Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, which is advising more than 50 House and Senate candidates. "In terms of our individual campaigns, I don't think it does a great deal of good" to engage in a debate over the Republicans' own agenda."
"Consultants, in my opinion, are stupid," Gingrich told Tumulty and Kane. "The least idea-oriented, most mindless campaign of simplistic slogans is a mindless idea." And yet consultants who peddle such mindlessness are legion and contribute to the culture of fear in American politics. Fear, that is, of taking hard stands on tough issues in case you are attacked.
This was on full display on “Meet the Press” yesterday when moderator David Gregory repeatedly asked Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee to articulate the Republican agenda to counter the Democrats.
“If Republicans do get back into power,” Gregory asked, “what are they going to do?” Sessions insisted that the American people know what the Republicans stand for, which included two points: 1. “We have to live within our own means”; 2. “We need to make sure that we read the bills.” Gregory interrupted this painful bit of non-answering with a pithy putdown, “But, congressman, that’s a pretty gauzy agenda so far.” Indeed. And it doesn’t give much hope that anything more concrete or credible will come out of the GOP’s “America Speaking Out” exercise.
“They will have to take positions instead of just give grief,” wrote New York Times columnist Charles Blow’s Saturday column about the nascent Republican presidential field for 2012. “They will have to develop a plan instead of simply picking apart Obama’s.” That same critique applies to Republicans running in this November’s elections.
To ask voters to cast ballots for Republicans on blind faith is an insult to them. Americans are angry, frustrated, fearful and desperate for real answers and solutions to their very real problems. My only fear is that people are SO angry that the current GOP tactic of doing nothing and saying less just might work.
| July 19, 2010; 6:48 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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