The Lizard is writing for the Washington Post these days. Although I am wary of anything The Lizard says, he often is a good source of information on what’s happening inside the GOP.
In today’s column he writes that the GOP leadership has lost it.
Pollster Frank Luntz for the past decade has issued warnings to his fellow Republicans that they did not want to hear, but never has he been so out of touch with them as he is today. “The Republican message machine is a skeleton of its former self,” Luntz told me. “These people have no idea how the American people react to them.”
Luntz sees a disconnect between Republicans and voters that projects a grim future for the party. That contradicts what House and Senate Republicans are saying to each other in closed party conferences. While Luntz views 2006 election defeats as ominous portents, the party’s congressional leaders see only transitory setbacks and now dwell on bashing Democrats.
Now dwell on bashing Democrats? Like that hasn’t been 90 percent of their message since the Yalta Conference?
Anyway, Novak goes on to say that there’ve been some bad vibes between Frank Luntz — a long-time Republican operative who works under the cover of being a “pollster” — and Rep. John A. Boehner, the Republican House Minority Leader.
Boehner, elected chairman of the House Republican Conference when the party took control in 1995, tried then to keep Luntz from addressing closed-door meetings but was overruled by Speaker Gingrich. When Luntz warned publicly in October 2005 of rejection by voters in 2006, he was forced to deliver an abject apology before he could speak at a retreat of House Republicans held at the Library of Congress. After seven straight years on the program, Luntz was kept off last week’s 2007 session at Cambridge, Md., by Boehner.
Some Republicans in Washington think the biggest scandal of their time is runaway federal spending. Others (like Boehner) think that the GOP’s only problem is that they haven’t bashed Democrats enough. After the midterm elections the Right Blogosphere went all-out promoting some reform candidates for the House Republican leadership. The righties soon learned how much clout they had in Washington — none. House Republicans kept Boehner (Ohio) and Roy Blunt (Missouri) as their respective Leader and Whip.
This week Boehner managed to piss off some of the biggest rightie toadies on the Blogosphere. Boehner has called for “strategic benchmarks” to measure the effectiveness of the President Bush’s “new” Iraq “strategy.” But righties have been well pickled in the propaganda that any metric or measure of Bush’s Folly is bad, because it emboldens the enemy. And why this theory is not an admission of failure is … well, never mind.
The Reptile continues,
Indeed, Luntz is not alone in his gloomy prognosis. Republican pollster Bill McInturff believes his party “underestimates” the 2006 outcome and thinks the outlook for Republicans is as dangerous as it has been “at any time since Watergate.” Sen. Jim DeMint, a reform Republican from South Carolina, says the newly minority Republicans are like the Israelites yearning for the fleshpots of Egypt. The question is whether the party will heed warnings or follow the route of its leaders, who mainly want to trash Nancy Pelosi.
The fact is that the Republican Agenda has been pretty much content-free for most of the past 50 years. If you look hard at how Republicans have gotten elected since 1960 or so, their campaigns are mostly about fear-mongering (Vote for the GOP or Communists / terrorists will get you), discrimination (Vote for the GOP or black / gay people will move into your neighborhood and sexually molest your children) and Dem bashing (Dems will tax you to death and give the money to Communists, terrorists, black welfare queens driving Cadillacs, or gay men planning lavish wedding receptions). They fancy themselves the “party of ideas,” but their ideas are mostly smoke for their seething resentments and greed.
Frank Luntz’s task has been to create and maintain the cover. But Boehner has been bashing Democrats for years and doesn’t see why he needs Luntz’s help to spin Democrat-bashing into something that looks like policy.
I think the operative word here is “self-destruct.”