If you follow politics at all, you’ve heard them say it: Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney have found a message and they’re sticking with it: Obama’s failing, Obama wants the economy to fail, etc. And in case you’ve somehow escaped hearing about Obama’s failure ad nauseum, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just released a video of the trifecta in action, juxtaposed against Obama’s message of hope:
I’ll say one thing for the Republicans — they’ve learned from the master. Frank Luntz has helped shape GOP talking points for years (he’s why we call global warming the much more passive and softer “climate change” now). And once they have a message, they run with it.
Take Newt Gingrich. Last September, I heard him speak in a debate series against Robert Reich in Marin County, California — to an audience predisposed to pretty much disagree with everything that came out of his mouth. Nevertheless, Gingrich was on a mission to make us like him, sticking to talking about things like how important it is to invest now in Alzheimer’s research instead of spending billions in Medicare programs to treat patients later with no hope for a cure.
Since then, he’s decided the right needs a strong conservative voice. And he’s leapt up to fill that void in a way that recalls the Gingrich of old. Howard Fineman’s column this week in Newsweek sums it up best:
At the dawn of the Obama era, Gingrich has remade himself as the anti-Obama. He is arguably the GOP’s most influential strategist and cheerleader, and a provocative scold of the administration. Where Obama exudes the new Washington equanimity, Gingrich exalts in the old-school insult. He is ruthless in caricaturing anyone who gets in his way as a “pagan” or “statist” or “socialist” or “racist” — all words Newt has hurled in recent days. And so, wounded, rudderless and leaderless, GOP members of Congress and others on his voluminous e-mail list have returned to hear the gospel according to Newt. They speak of him with the awe of disciples.
But is this really a strategy for 2012? I don’t think so. I think it speaks more to the GOP’s desperation than anything else. It’s like the anti-hope; by saying Obama’s failing, they’re actually flailing.
His weakness for combat may be fueling his popularity on the right at the moment, but it’s a poor substitute for a strategy to rebuild the party — and would likely spell his doom in a contest against Obama. There are, after all, reasons why he was banished years ago. GOP stalwarts remember that his imperiousness as House Speaker and his sometimes juvenile public behavior led friends to plot against him. Insiders doubt that he will ever learn to control his acid tongue. “Newt is our great idea factory, but he’d be a disaster as a candidate,” a prominent Republican fundraiser told me, staying in the shadows to avoid angering a man he has known for many years. “We need his thinking, but not the man himself.”
Indeed, the man American people seem to be responding to in both thinking and philosophy is none other than President Obama (the anti-Gingrich, if you will). With his message of hope, Obama continues to get high approval ratings.
Do you share Obama’s message of hope? Sign the Hope Card to Obama, sharing with him what you hope to see happen in this country. By engaging in the message of hope, we can stand up to the attacks of Gingrich, Limbaugh, Cheney and the like. And by embracing the hope message, we can instead turn the tables and have Gingrich be the one who fails.