The Jurassic media is on the march, and their goal is to help the Republicans nominate Jeb Bush in 2016. In order to achieve this goal, they have started to soften the battlefield of ideas with their stockpile of shallow psychological tactics.
This is just the same old psy-ops the left always tries. And why not? It almost always works on the Republican establishment in Washington. Inside the GOP-e in DC, reality does not matter -- only polls and media opinions do. It’s Orwellian, as we can tune in and watch polls and media opinion work it’s voodoo on elected officials like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, not to mention wizards like Karl Rove and other clueless Republican “strategists.”
You’ve probably seen this. It’s fairly obvious. We remember that the mainstream media helped John McCain get nominated in 2008 and then Mitt Romney in 2012 -- and immediately made sure both got crushed in the General Elections. Of course, McCain and Romney were favored by the media in the first place because neither could expose the inherent problems of liberal big government or espouse a clear vision.
And this media narrative -- which all too often this includes so-called conservatives like Brit Hume, Charles Krauthammer, and George Will -- is always the same. It goes like this:
Republicans must appeal to moderates and independents… Republican brand in trouble so must not seem too Republican… fake right in the primary and then go middle for the general…. cannot criticize the black guy, or the girl, etc, because soccer moms in Ohio will hate you… blah blah blah.
It’s the conventional wisdom, but it’s not wise at all. It fails the test of history, and this should not be any secret. A glance back shows us that one undeniable truth explains almost every election result -- midterm and general -- for the last 35 years. The truth is this: when the perceived ideological gap between the parties is large, the Republicans triumph.
When that gap is perceived to be small, then the Democrats win. When it’s neither large nor small, elections can swing either way and are always close. The key word here may be perceived, as sometimes it is real and sometimes not.
Consider some history:
In 1980 and ‘84, Ronald Reagan’s campaign message created a massive ideological contrast with both Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale. The result? Two colossal wins, the second one including a 49-state sweep. In 1988, under the perception that he was going to give us four more years of Reagan, and with far left Michael Dukakis on the other side, George H.W. Bush rolled to an easy win. The perceived gap was wide in all three cases.
In 1992, after Bush had been outed as a moderate – and with Bill Clinton’s Southern good ole boy accent and Ross Perot obfuscating the ideological climate, the Republican incumbent limped into the ash heap of history with but 38% of the popular vote. It was a crushing defeat. Things were muddy.
In 1994, however, with Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America recreating an enormous philosophical chasm versus the Democrats and HillaryCare, the Republicans won 54 seats in the House and took over control of both chambers of Congress. It was historic. In 1996, however, the disastrous ticket of Bob Dole and a neutered latter-day Jack Kemp was not able to draw any distinctions with Clinton and Perot -- and the result was another Democrat blowout.
Are we spotting a trend here yet? Well yes, we are, but it’s probably escaped Mr. Rove’s notice.
There was no coherent message from the GOP in the ‘98 midterms, and they lost pretty badly, considering it was the second-term midterm for Clinton. The only hard-core conservative message in the country was the successful third-party campaign of Jesse Ventura, who never realized it, and thus governed like a moderate and saw his administration end in disaster. The point is, when conservatism was shown as an alternative, it succeeded. Even from Ventura, who happened onto conservatism by accident and unknowingly.
In 2000 and 2004, the leftward bent of both the Gore/Lieberman and especially Kerry/Edwards tickets created just enough ideological space for Republican victories for the philosophically nondescript Bush/Cheney Campaigns. In the 2002 midterms, the Paul Wellstone memorial service uncovered the radical nature of the Democrats in Congress on national TV just days before the election -- and this led to another Republican success that defied pre-election polling -- by exposing the ideological gap.
What happened in 2006 was a GOP disaster -- caused by many things -- chief among them the weight of six years of squishy leadership from W and Congress, including during the campaign. (Yes, Foleygate was a factor too). Of course, we know that 2008 and 2012 produced two Republican disasters, as neither McCain nor Romney were willing and/or able to draw the sharp distinctions ideologically.On the other hand, ideology was very distinct in 2010 and 2014 -- albeit without the RNC’s help in 2014 -- and both of those midterms were historic wins for the GOP again.
The math is clear: for over 34 years. When there is a big gap, Republicans win. Period. The opposite is true when the gap is very fuzzy and perceived as small. End of discussion.
And I submit that the Jurassic media and some in the Democrat establishment know this. This is why they were carrying out psychological operations in 2011 about how much the Democrats “feared” Jon Huntsman. Yeah, right. The same thing was going on to an extent in 2007 about John McCain.
So today, of course, it’s all about Jeb Bush, and how inevitable he is and how formidable and of course “reasonable” he is. They tell us to nominate him if we want a chance to beat Hillary.
Conversely, they warn us we are destroying our party when someone like Ted Cruz shuts down the government. Even the out-of-touch Wall Street Journal chimed in on that one, calling Cruz “the minority maker.” Perhaps they should check the scoreboard from November.
They also warn us not to pay attention to Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin or Sarah Palin or the Tea Party. They warn us not to oppose amnesty or ObamaCare. They do all this, of course, because luminaries like Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, not to mention the media establishment, care so deeply about our sustainability as a party, you know.
And yet, it continues to vex and scare the Republican establishment. (But that’s another column). In the meantime, keep an eye out for more Jurassic media love for Jeb Bush. This time, I don’t think it will work.