Monday, March 18, 2013

Wash, Reince, Repeat

Democrats are safe from RNC Chair Reince Preibus.

He released (or it escaped) the Growth & Opportunity Project report. The 100-pager is actually about 30 sheets of big, Mac-style sans serif type pages if you account for the repetition. It could accurately have the title Why We'll Never, Ever Fail Again or Click Your Heels Three Times.

I read the 100 pages, even the iterations and reiterations, verbatim, so you don't have to. Alas for bedraggled elephants, many sheets of, well, stuff don't make Priebus as smart, strategic or analytical as his predecessor Michael Steele. Facts include, Steele and his big candidates were winners, the GOP replaced him with loser Priebus, and the report G.O.P. or maybe GANDOP fails terribly at its two main purposes — 1) explicating how even in the worst of economic times with Republican Congressmen doing their damnedest to make sure our President could neither pass laws, nor appoint key officials, nor govern, the GOP lost the big race and seats in both houses, and 2) detailing corrections that will ensure big Republican wins in 2014 and the 2016 Presidential.

Instead GANDOP the gray:

  • Does not deal with such core problems as voter disdain for GOP policies and distrust of arrogant candidates
  • Pretends that changing voter demographics toward more people of color and a younger electorate are perfectly manageable if only they package their feces in a pretty box
  • Uses a one-strategy-fits-all groups (except women) approach of puppet spokesmodels
  • Deludes with gear-head fantasies such as if only they hire the right data collectors and analysts or the spiffiest new-media consultants they'll beat the Dems at their game

I can point to some telling pages in the report:

  • P2: Contacts shown here and mentioned sporadically suggest hand-clasping, going to favorable or mildly critical, red-state folk and missing meaningful criticisms
  • P4: "Republican governors are America's reformers in chief." if you equate regressive and reactionary policy with positive change. The question they should have asked is whether state-level regression contributed powerfully to the defeats in the last election.
  • P5: "At our core, Republicans have comfortably remained the Party of Reagan.." Yet his policies differ dramatically from the current GOP platform and pols. 
  • P5: However, this page has one of the keenest and most candid insights in the report — The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue. I suspect this key judgment will disappear in the morass of jive.
  • P5: There is a voter perception that the GOP does care about people, while Dems "tend to talk about people. Republicans tend to talk about policy." The report fails to note that Dem policy also tends to act to the benefit of the voters instead of moneyed classes.
  • P6: A key conceit is that Republican policies that favor the corporations and wealthy individuals creates a healthy, growing middle class. Very few are so delusional as to believe that. If the GOP wants the White House, it needs to drop this.
  • P8: The only mention of gay rights is that younger people favor them. Yet the report only calls "to make sure young people do not thee the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view." It's surely not like the GOP is out of step with the nation, eh?
  • P8: "If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to enrage them, and show our sincerity." Of course, every conclusion and recommendation in the report is insincere and manipulative. Saying sincere and being sincere are not the same.
  • P12: The dark people are coming, Latinos, Asians and others. The report concludes repeatedly that the canned GOP program is the best for everyone. Yet Barack Obama and the Dems convinced voters that Republicans did not have their economic interests at heart. That wasn't a hard sell.
  • P14: Iterates over many pages in recommendations. Just get coached surrogates who look like the target voter groups and the GOP wins. For one, "This new organization should design a surrogate program to train and prepare ethnic conservatives for media presentations nationally and locally. Surrogates would speak on behalf of the Republican Party on issues of the day." The report has similar findings for each major group Romney lost in the last election, except for women. The puppet strategy is simple-minded and insulting. You just train the various looks-like-you folk. 
  • P15: "It is imperative that the RNC changes how it engages with Hispanic communities to welcome in new members of our Party." This also repeats for each group it lost. It avoids personal responsibility for clumsy, insulting, mean policies by suggesting that if you only phrase the message properly, voters will buy in.
  • P16: For each lost group, starting with Latinos, key concepts are that you train the surrogates (puppets), hire a few, suddenly visible representative members as party functionaries, and repeat to them "The Republican Party is one of tolerance and respect..."
  • P17: For Asians and Pacific Islanders, no more fly-over campaigning. There is no mention to what party shock will ensue if the GOP actually asks what the various groups want and sees that none of it aligns with party policy.
  • P19-21: Women get a slightly different treatment from the cut-and-past recommendations for the ethnic groups. Here instead of policy changes, the report looks to theater, manipulation and tricks. It calls for framing the wooing and training of surrogates with "unique concerns that female voters may have..." and  using "language that addresses concerns that are on women's minds in order to let them know we are fighting for them." It's all fluff for women, fluff and messaging —"Women need to hear what our motive is — why it is that we want to create a better future for our families and how our policies will affect the lives of their loved ones." This is the most patronizing and insulting part of the report.
  • P21-22: Youth harks back to the Vietnam Era Young Americans For Freedom glory days. Somehow the RNC thinks it can get eager campus and young professional voters spontaneously organizing for them, all without changing their policies to be more inclusive for real.
  • P26: Many of us remember when Republican were first with the internet and savviest with emerging social media. They've lost hat Now they've become gear-heads, thinking if only they have better data collection, they'll best Dems at the game of voter connection. The report does not see that Dems have both delivery AND content.
  • P29-30: Dreams of monopolizing early and absentee voter ballots overlook a huge problem. Through gerrymandering and redistricting, they also thought that they had the Electoral College in hand. They overreached with voter suppression in many states. For sure last year and likely going forward, the GOP created new groups of angry, dedicated voters who won't forget the treachery and anti-democracy.
  • P31: "The RNC should recruit and hire a chief technology and digital officer for the RNC by May 1, 2013." More gear-head stuff does not admit the problem. It's like a teen thinking if only he had that glove and bat, he'd be a star or an adult fantasizing that his $5,000 bike would make him a champion cyclist.
  • P33: Calls for "recruiting the highest-quality candidates with the greatest potential for leadership" ignores the history of primaries that yield extreme and ultimately unelectable entries, chosen by the wingers who vote in these contests. It also avoids consideration of whether the RNC will try (surely unsuccessfully and maybe illegally) to dictate state parties' operations.
  • P52: "Our friends and allies (third party groups) should significantly invest in voter registration and grassroots efforts." This assumes a buy-in by voters that has not existed in a long time.
  • P54: Relying on ambush videos by "Well-funded conservative groups" tracking Dem candidates is a tactic, but one that many voters find both despicable and boring.
  • P54: "Our friends and allies must realize that the Party is at its best as the Party of ideas, and healthy debate of those ideas is fundamentally good for the Republican Party." This is the most unintentionally amusing recommendation in the report. Throughout, it is heavy-handedly paternalistic in not bringing up self-criticism, not admitting failures, and calling for RNC edicts to state parties and the puppets, a.k.a. surrogates.
  • P57: The report envies Obama's grassroots support there and here, and notably in "low-dollar fundraising." This follows a passing mention of the rich folk who bankroll the party. It avoids the obvious, that grassroots are millions of voters and million of contributors. Dems win them by offering platform planks that help them. The clear recommendation should be, but is not, to evaluate the party policies to see whether they help the target voters.
  • P65-67: Citizens United was not enough. The report wants a total freedom for the RNC and state campaign financial system to raise and spend as it sees fit. The report phrases such anarchy as "making political speech more robust at the state and local level."
  • P71: Cut the number of Presidential-candidate debates in half, with the aim of helping the GOP pick a single candidate and getting a head start on the national campaign. Forget that talk about robust speech.

The last third of the report cuts and pastes each section's already iterative recommendations. I suggest not just starting on page 74 for these. You'd miss the shameful and illogical rationalizations.

This report is a marvel of effete delusion. Academics will enjoy this for decades. Given the chance and lots of resources and what passes for brain power in the GOP, Priebus' pals could well have dealt with real causes and real solutions. Instead, it's the fantasy world again.

Yeah, the Dems did this or that better than us. All we need to do is buy the right staff and train some spokesmodels. All will be swell.

It is to laugh.

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