What jumps out from this New York Times article is an incredibly stupid comment by David Leege, but the most important part has to do with how the Republican establishment is trying to sell itself. The self-serving malice of an academic is less damaging than the self-serving delusions of the Republican party’s leaders. Thomas Edsall describes the Republican establishment’s plan as:
a revived pro-business, anti-regulatory Republican Party that purposefully narrowcasts — that is, carefully restricts to a select audience — its focus on divisive social and cultural issues
That would be a big change right? Oh yeah, no it wouldn’t. Edsall just described the Romney campaign. It is a sign of the arrogance of the Washington Republican political class that they would try to sell the exact strategy of 2012 as the change we need. Edsall describes the Republican party as “the political arm of business”. The problem is not that this is the hostile characterization of a liberal reporter. The problem is that much of the Republican leadership is acting as if this characterization is something to aspire to.
Even when they are trying to be populist, guys like Karl Rove are getting it wrong. Rove talks about cutting corporate welfare. Fine, but cutting corporate welfare does not, in itself, address any middle-class concerns. If cutting corporate welfare is coupled with cutting the top marginal income tax rate, it just looks like Republicans are trying to cut spending on clean energy Democratic donors in order to cut taxes on Republican donors. It is still ignoring middle-class concerns. In the 2012 exit poll, 53% of the voters said they thought Romney’s policies would primarily benefit the rich. It doesn’t help to say “But we’re the party of the good Republican rich, not the bad Democratic rich.” Romney didn’t lose because people thought he wasn’t pro-business enough. Romney’s didn’t lose because he spent too little time talking about the “job creators” who “built that”. And a “revived” Republican domestic policy strategy will involve prioritizing the concerns of the struggling middle-class.