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Monday, 04 October 2010
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Republicans Think Voters Are Too Stupid to Understand What They'll Do

At least, that's the argument that Patrick McIlheran makes in this blog post regarding why Republicans aren't talking about Paul Ryan's "Roadmap to America's Future"... and he seems to be OK with it. It's Republican Strategery, or something:

Don't sell the 434-point plan, argues Fred Barnes in Weekly Standard about Republican strategy in the upcoming elections. Sell the conservative candidates and reliable conservatism.

Barnes points out that this worked for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. His spending and tax cuts are popular in practice, but he didn't detail them before the election – so that Dems couldn't use them as specters. "Instead," Barnes writes, "he concentrated on Democratic governor Jon Corzine as the main issue - and won," by promising to be a better alternative.

John Boehner is all over this strategy as well. When asked what Republicans would cut when voted in, he said:

Let's not get to the potential solutions. When you start down that path, you just invite all kinds of problems.

In other words... point out how bad it is to have the White House and Congress controlled by one party, and how bad of a job they're doing, and promise to be different. Hmmm... where have I heard that before? Is this Republican "Hope and Change"? And remember, don't be specific about the changes that you'll make. Just promise to be better, and more conservative, just like you were in the first six years of the Bush Administration... when Republicans increased the size of the Federal Government to levels never before seen, increasing both the deficit and debt to record levels?  You'll forgive me if I'm not impressed by this bold plan for the election. You'll certainly forgive me for not calling Republicans "reliable" in their conservatism. We've been down this road before, and we didn't like who we got. That's why Republicans got booted out four years ago.

The whole argument about Democrats using "specifics" as a specter is even stranger to me. Have you not paid attention to the Tea Party? Patrick must, because he blogs about them quite often. Tea Partiers are demanding specifics! They're even going after long time Republicans because they aren't being small government enough, and aren't talking about specific changes. To suggest that voters will be scared away by these specifics is a claim that voters are too stupid to understand the implications of cuts in government. Republicans are now channeling Nancy Pelosi when she said during the Obama Care debate that "We need to pass the health care bill to find out what's in it."  Republicans are now saying to voters that you have to vote for them to find out what bills they'll pass. But the problem with that concept is that voters no longer trust Republicans to do what they promise. We are demanding specifics, because that's the only way they can be held accountable for their actions... or inactions.

Even Newt Gingrich, the "family values" Speaker who can't stay faithful to a wife to save his life, who loves bashing Democrats on their fiscal non-restraint can't bring himself to mention specifics:

Gingrich offered up this weak sauce: "I would start and I'd go through this budget pretty dramatically and I would eliminate a great deal of federal bureaucracy. I would reform unemployment compensation. I would reform workman's comp at the state level. I would have a very pro-jobs, very pro-savings, very pro-take-home-pay policy."

You may recall candidate Barack Obama's pledge to go through his budgets "line by line" to eliminate wasteful programs and enact a "net spending cut" while also lowering taxes of the middle classes and "reforming" various programs in ways that would magically reduce the deficit. We have seen how that movie played out.

The interview got worse. "Would you make cuts in Social Security and Medicare?" Lauer asked.

Gingrich: "No, no."

All of this seems to circle around the Republicans latest "Pledge to America", and speculation that Paul Ryan, author of the Roadmap to America's Future, was left out of it's drafting. I've blogged about my feelings regarding Paul Ryan many times, so I won't rehash them here. Ryan is now saying that he is playing a key role behind the scenes... almost like he's an Ace up the Republican sleeve. The leadership is promising, he claims, to honestly take this up after they're elected. And yet, the Pledge to America (downgraded from an actual Contract like last time because voters foolishly thought Contracts were legally binding) contains nothing of the Roadmap. In reality, it merely promises to rollback spending to the levels that existed before Democrats were voted in. You remember, don't you?  Those are the levels that were double what they had been before George W. Bush took office... which was when they got booted out the last time for spending too much.

And do you remember how Republicans cried over Obama Care, and how large the actual bill was? They claimed that with a document so large, people couldn't understand it. After all, the Constitution is small and succinct, and look at how successful it is! But when it came to their own Pledge to America, they created a 48 page when two pages would have worked just as well:

When you consider the title pages, table of contents, and other virtually blank pages, only half of the Pledge to America is devoted to text, which is set with big margins and lots of space between the lines. Since the text is repetitive and consists largely of rhetorical flourishes, the actual substance probably could have been boiled down to a single two-sided sheet. Think of it as a metaphor for the federal budget - or for Republican promises of fiscal restraint.

But at the end of the day, we're left with a single question. Are Republicans avoiding specifics now because they are simply hoping to ride a wave of voter anger into office, with no intention of following through? Or are they doing like they've always done and avoided specifics, but this time with the intent of doing what they've never done before, and actually attacking the size and scope of federal government? Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And with that, I say that any voter would be insane to vote for a Republican who doesn't make concrete promises, and expects them to make concrete changes.

Republicans are now asking that we trust them to do the "right thing". How stupid do they think we are?

# Posted at 14:01 by Nick  |  Comment Feed Link 1 Comment  |  No Trackbacks

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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 22:51:01 (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)
A campaign message of "If you don't like what you've had -- give me a shot" falls short. But, in this election cycle that probably is all that's needed in many of these races. The liberal agenda is just that unpopular.

I think a campaign that highlights a candidate's guiding principles and their plan for the next few years resonates much better with the electorate. But, if a candidate gets to specific on individual items they wish to cut out of the budget it can detract from their message.

If the message is: anti-stimulus, anti-obamacare, pro extending the tax cuts... I think that is a winning formula this year. And, if voters don't like the results they'll have an opportunity to voice their opinions with their votes again in 2012.
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