In his weekly column at the Washington Post, Marc A. Thiessen, a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, recently offered an interesting appreciation of Barack Obama, surprising in its suggestion that his Republican friends be more like our extremely driven, results-oriented president. He writes:
Obama strong armed the GOP by making clear he was ready to take the country over the fiscal cliff and allow taxes to rise on every single American. He was willing to let the country go into recession if he did not get his way. He knew he had political leverage, and he used it without hesitation—forcing his political opposition to bend to his will. . .
Republicans should take a page from Obama’s playbook. . . . If they learn anything from Obama’s victories, it should be this: Voters reward conviction politicians who fight for what they believe in—even when they disagree with them. Pandering does not work.
I too have come to respect Obama’s tenacity, even as I deplore his illiberality, but I think Thiessen’s recommendation makes a deadly miscalculation: He forgets that Obama’s single-minded pursuits are fully backed and protected by the mainstream press.
Whether in print or broadcast, our increasingly lofty and elitist media are a little like the FDIC to Obama’s commercial bank; they provide insurance and coverage. They differ from the FDIC only in conditions and limits, because where this president is concerned, the media have none. Although he displays little respect for their assistance, Obama’s deposits are always accepted; his withdrawals are penalty-free and he is never asked to fill out a form, repay with interest or show two forms of ID.
The GOP, even if they could figure out exactly what they want and then rouse themselves to something resembling tenacity, has no equivalent support, and would therefore be unable to successfully bring about their policy ideas by using Obama’s methods. As a college professor once informed me in bright red ink, “you cannot do mathematics if you don’t have all the numbers”, and any reconfiguration on the part of the GOP must acknowledge that, currently, the essential component of the press is unavailable to them; hence, their math will not work:
“My Will, Squared, times Digging-in-Heels, divided by [Executive Order] only equals “Glorious Victory” when it contains a cosine “D” and is calculated with a vector + MSM.
The same equation: My Will, Squared, times Digging-in-Heels, divided by [Executive Order] with a cosine “R” and + ALT vector can never, ever equal “Glorious Victory”; it will instead calculate—as we have seen repeatedly since at least 1992—as “Imperialistic Arrogance, Brusque Tone-deaf” with a straggly and useless remainder of “Out of Touch.”
If the roles were reversed, Obama would not hesitate to use the threat of default to break his political opposition . . . Obama uses every ounce of political power at his disposal to get what he wants. It’s admirable, really. He has core beliefs and is willing to put everything on the line for them . . . If the GOP wants a path out of the political wilderness, they should start acting more like the current occupant of the Oval Office.
I hope Thiessen can step back from the blackboard, see what is missing from his calculation and redo it. The work he is showing contains some essential parts, but absent the necessary cosine and vector, I believe his advice could be dangerous, even deadly.
And the GOP is already in extremis; they can’t afford to continue acting out at the chalkboard, erasing each other’s math in mid-problem to insert their preferred configurations, all while calling each other names and attempting to narrow their numbers down to the purest common denominator—or to force a perfect number where it will not fit.
Thiessen is an intelligent man, but the calculation he offers is so fundamentally flawed that were it a cartoon it might be called Atomic Stupidity. Picture Huey, Dewey, and Louie fighting at the chalkboard, with Uncle Donald breaking yardsticks in rage, while Pluto and Goofy are using the correct formulation and launching an A-bomb in their direction, even as they squabble.
Post-impact, they stagger around in disorientation, because they are cartoons, and do not realize that they are actually dead.
The GOP has lost the MSM vector. Some, like Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds have proffered that the only way for Republicans to find it is for the wealthier among them to acquire mainstream media outlets, particularly women’s magazines:
Those magazines and Web sites see themselves, pretty consciously, as a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. So while nine out of 10 articles may be the usual stuff on sex, diet and shopping, the 10th will always be either soft p.r. for the Democrats or soft—or sometimes not-so-soft—hits on Republicans.
When a flier about getting away with rape was found in a college men’s bathroom, the women’s site YourTango (“Your Best Love Life”) led with the fact that the college was Paul Ryan’s alma mater in a transparent effort to advance the Democrats’ War on Women claim that Republicans are somehow pro-rape. A companion article was “12 Hot Older Men Who Endorse President Obama.” . . . this theme, repeated over and over again, sends a message: Democrats are cool, and Republicans are uncool—and if you vote for them, you’re uncool, too.
Reynolds might be right. A steady ten-percent solution of soft-media counter-spin dripped into the subconscious of low-info voters—pointing out, perhaps, that since November 2012 Lily Ledbetter’s equal-pay story and the “War on Women” have suddenly gone away—might be more effective than alternative media conservatives shouting endlessly to their overwrought choirs.
Elizabeth Scalia is the Managing Editor of the Catholic Portal at Patheos and blogs as The Anchoress. Her previous articles for "On the Square" can be found here.
Marc Thiessen in WaPo
US Press selective in its coverage and emphasis.
Glenn Reynolds: Republicans should buy media outlets
War on Women Rhetoric
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