Why do I bring him up now?
Because Hugh Hewitt said this the other day on Twitter:
Still waiting for critics of Rove to nominate best GOP strategist…for most it is like hating your starting QB but having no back-up.
Hewitt’s statement got my dander up a bit and then I sorta went on a rant.
Allow me me sorta clean up my tweets for human consumption.
First, I have no other GOP strategerist to replace Karl Rove, so I’ll concede Hewitt a well-earned point. If I absolutely had to pick someone to run the 2016 Republican ticket, I’d hire the person who ran either Scott Walker’s or Bobby Jindal’s campaigns and then hope for the best. At least those folks have had success in the last four years.
Like every other facet of the GOP panoply, it’s very tough to have confidence in politicos based in Washington DC. Choosing somebody outside the Beltway might be the only viable option.
But here’s something I’ve been wondering. How come nobody–not the slick consultants, the overpriced underperforming tech gurus, or the high-powered campaign honchos–could figure out just how stupid and self-defeating Mitt Romney’s pro-life positioning was?
Think about the journey Romney took to become an anti-abortion presidential candidate. Homeboy was pro-abortion for most of his public life. He only started making vaguely pro-life noises in 2005. He then tried to assure the GOP faithful that he was pro-life.
There were several problems with Mitt’s messaging. Most pro-lifers were very skeptical of Romney’s rather recent and not completely convincing conversion. That alone probably depressed social conservative turnout and hurt Romney’s chances on Election Day.
However, Mitt being perceived as an insincere opportunist wasn’t his biggest problem. Romney never used his pro-life position for anything except winning the GOP nomination. Once he got that, being anti-abortion was more or less forgotten by the campaign and the candidate.
Funny thing is, Obamaton propaganda ministers David Plouffe and Jim Messina didn’t forget. While Romney was trying and failing to make the election about the national debt going supernova and the sputtering American economy, Obama succeeded in making 2012 about Mitt being a misogynistic piece of dogshit. Naturally, Team Barry used Romney’s pro-life stance as the convenient hook to slam the former Massachusetts governor as a vagina-hating douchecanoe. Romney never defended being anti-abortion except in the weakest most mewling ways. Even worse, the GOP standard bearer never employed his pro-life stance as a club to beat up Obama at all.
For God’s sake, Obama voted against the Born Alive Act when he was an Illinois muckety-muck. He gave (and continues to give) lots of federal tax dollar love to Planned Parenthood, the same organization that was cool with giving abortions to what it thought were underage sex slaves. There was plenty of anti-life extremism in Obama’s curriculum vitae that could’ve been exploited by the Romney camp. But they just couldn’t bring themselves to do it.
So why did Mitt Romney even bother going through the motions to become a pro-lifer in the first place? His position on the abortion issue didn’t energize evangelical Christians and other components of the social conservative movement. It didn’t expand the party’s base by getting significant chunks of the Latino vote, a constituency I keep hearing is full of natural Republican voters. Further, Mitt never employed his pro-life stance as a pivot to attack Barack Obama’s shockingly radical anti-life actions. Once the primaries were over, being pro-life didn’t help Romney in any way. It can be credibly argued that being a squishy half-assed pro-lifer hurt Romney because it gave Obama an opening to create the War On Women narrative against the GOP standard-bearer.
This should be an iron-clad rule in politics: If your ideological positions are not helping you, they will be used by your opponent to hurt you. This is especially true when it comes to abortion, which is far more emotional and polarizing then an issue like energy independence or entitlement reform. Mitt and his team forgot this law of partisan warfare and it cost them dearly.
I’ll admit that this post is a lot of gussied-up Monday morning quarterbacking. On the other hand, the Republican Party consultant class gets paid to figure this out before the election and they still don’t know how to play the game. If you listen to Karl Rove and his ilk, they still think the GOP’s problems are caused by being too right-wing. They’ve had just as much time as I’ve had to do a post-game analysis of the November debacle. Their strongest recommendations involve letting Obama get his way on everything, then lather-rinse-repeat until 2016.
To be fair, Karl Rove won two presidential elections in the last decade, so its not like he’s got no game. The problem is that he doesn’t understand why Mitt Romney got his ass beat two and a half months ago. Nor does anybody else who runs anything in the Republican Party seem to get it either. If Turd Blossom is the best the GOP can do, then they deserve to perish because they suck at politics.
RELATED: I don’t wanna belabor the point, but I’m going to anyway.
Politics–like life itself–is often not about what you say, but how you say it. If Barack Obama stated, “I’m going to raise your taxes because I think you’re too stupid to know what to do with all your money”, he’d win 10 states, tops. If the President declared, “I’m going to obliterate the Second Amendment and incrementally take away your guns because I don’t trust you, the great unwashed bitter clingers”, his approval rating would hover just above herpes. If Two-Pack Attack Barry admitted that ObamaCare was going to feature death panels to determine who gets what kinds of medical treatment, Romney would’ve won the 2012 election with seventy percent of the popular vote.
But of course, Obama doesn’t do that. The Duffer-in-Chief believes all those things in his heart, but he never says them out loud. Instead, he always couches his ideology in nicey-nice pablum: “balanced approach”, “common sense gun laws”, “Obama does care”. Even better? As he describes his own campus Marxism as true-blue Americana, he’s turns the Republicans into the Ku Klux Klan, the Taliban and the Nazis all rolled into one big slimy ball of extremism.
It doesn’t help matters when prominent candidates on the Republican side completely lose the plot and play into his hands. The problem with the GOP isn’t that Todd Akin misspoke on the life issue. It’s that Todd Akin was never taught how to speak credibly and effectively about his political views in the first place.
To stick with the abortion issue, being pro-life isn’t enough for a political candidate. Being extremely pro-life isn’t enough. Being pro-life and then turning your position into a cudgel to beat up your opponent is what has to happen if you want to win. Allowing yourself to get bogged down in some weird rhetorical side street will only get you in trouble. If you’re not on offense, you’re on defense. That means you’re getting your ass kicked.
This is true of every political issue. Why take a stand on any topic if it cannot be weaponized and deployed against an opponent?