17 March 2013

Vying for the "Right" Leadership

The so-called Architect of former President George W. Bush’s electoral victories Karl Rove has come under intense scrutiny recently among conservatives for his failures in consulting in the 2012 cycle as well as his Cocktail Party proclivities.  During CPAC 2013 former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin challenged such behind the scenes insiders to “Buck up or stay in the truck”.

Rove responded on Fox News Sunday noting that he would not be a good candidate because he is bald.  Moreover, Karl quipped:  "If I did run for office and win, I would serve out my term and I wouldn't leave office midterm." 

 Clearly, “W’s Architect” for success was taking a pot shot at former Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK), who resigned with 16 months left in her term.  Of course, this cutting remark fails to consider the fifteen frivolous ethics complaints which cost Alaska $2.5 million to investigate and personally cost the Palins $500,000 to defend against without resulting in  any convictions.  So it depends Karl, and you should not wrap your own sullied interests around either the American flag or a good GOP cloth coat.

Although there seems to have been little love lost between Karl Rove and the maverick Grizzly Momma since Sarah Palin was selected as Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) Vice Presidential nominee, this fight is really not about personalities.   Palin is the lightning rod for Tea Party types and personifies the fight between insiders and outsiders of the GOP and conservative movement.  Passionate partisans think that Karl Rove has declared war against conservatives and Tea Partiers so that Crossroads GPS can select more “electable” GOP candidates. Rove and other insiders postulate that general elections are not decided by the margins but by the middle, so Republican candidates must modify their message and select candidates that will appeal to independents.  

The problem is that the wise guys pre-programmed plan did not pan out in the 2012 election. The Romney Presidential campaign took great solace at election eve that they were winning Independents by a crushing 59-35% in battleground states.  Yet former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) lost the election despite his overwhelming popularity with Independents.  

Although President Obama garnered significantly fewer votes in his re-election campaign, analysis shows that Republican had four million fewer votes than anticipated, which indicates that a number of the disaffected base did not vote.  Some have speculated Romney flip flops on Obamacare or even his evolution about abortion cost him among conservatives.  But there is also anecdotal evidence that the conservative base and Tea Party types wanted their candidates to stand for something and fight.  But Rove’s plans strike them as Progressive-lite and have no fight.

Aside from the electability canard, there is also the dirty little secret about campaign insiders–they personally profit, win or lose,  when they can pick the candidates.  Pat Caddell, a disaffected Democrat who was a Jimmy Carter wunderkind pollster, played the prophet of good governance at CPAC 2013.  When speaking on the “Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?” panel, Caddell proclaimed that: “The Republican Party is in the grips of what I call the CLEC — the consultant, lobbyist, and establishment complex.”   The GOP gadfly illustrated his point by noting:

When you have the Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee and the political director of the Romney campaign, and their two companies get $150 million at the end of the campaign for the “fantastic” get-out-the-vote program… some of this borders on RICO violations. 

Rush Limbaugh amplified Caddell’s assessment by recognizing that consultants decide the media budgets for campaigns and usually choose the vendor.  So when the Romney campaign elects to spend $100 million a media buy, the consultants automatically get 15% of that expenditure, win or lose. 

After McCain-Feingold Campaign finance reform took effect, Political Action Committees (PACs) became extremely important.  In the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commissions (2010) which lifted “soft money” expenditures (by unions, corporations and interest groups) but not all of McCain-Feingold so independent Super PACs are still quite important.  The Conservative Victory Project, an off-shoot of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, made headlines for “declaring war on the Tea Party, although Rove’s approach is allegedly not about moderation but about winning.  Yet a consummate insider like Rove can decide who is electible, despite the dearth of victory in 2010 along  the proclivity for favoring insiders rather than outsiders like Tea Party types and those passionate about protecting liberty.

Contrast the passion which reverberates amongst the Conservative base and dedicated Liberatians by Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) blockbuster filibuster over constitutional concerns.  The energy generated from Rand’s stand drew the spotlight away from insiders like Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who wanted to moderate things  facilitating a fancy dinner party with President Barack Obama and cook up a “Grand Bargain”.  Such a Grand Bargain inevitably would require the GOP to basically cave in on its principles and raises taxes (again) to appear to “solve” the budget mess.  Insiders would love this because it burnishes the deal making reputation of the Cocktail Party to “do something” and be bipartisan, but damn their prior principles and damn the voters. Of course insiders could choreograph the deal to benefit their interests (and line their pockets).

It is unclear if outsiders like the Tea Party, true conservatives and liberatian minded Republicans will reform the Party or if it will remain entrenched to the comfy seclusion of the Cocktail Party. But Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) the freshman who defied the odds and insiders to win his 2012 primary runoff and the general election, embraces the outsiders mantle as seen at CPAC.

To echo a now contrite maverick Senator John McCain's characterization of passionate partisans–will it be the “Wacko Birds” winning or will the Grand Old Party go the Whig way of being the RINO reserve for the Dodo Birds. 

h/t Excellence in Broadcasting 

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