Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Grim Realization

Picture From A Reader Response To The Linked Article
Jim Geraghty reaches the same conclusion The Omnivore did long ago--he just has a different read on it: The RNC's 2012 Autopsy Was Wrong. If you remember, following the 2012 defeat of Mitt Romney, the RNC studied what happened and concluded a few things:

  1. The Republicans were seen as out of touch / not caring about "normal people"
  2. The demographic trends were not good--Hispanics (the fastest growing minority) were turned off. Asians (a socially conservative, high-income minority) weren't thrilled either. Women (especially young, unmarried ones) weren't onboard. The youth? Nah. Black Americans? Forget about it.
  3. Our data infrastructure sucked.
This was all, ahem, objectively true.

The conclusions were things like:
  • Hire more African American communications directors.
  • Establish a presence in African American communities.
  • Craft a tone on immigration that takes into consideration the unique perspective of the Hispanic community.
  • Emphasize candidate training so that the Republican position of tolerance and respect isn't damaged by "poorly phrased arguments" or "out-of-context statements."
  • Improve on the promoting of Hispanic staff.
And so on.

Here's what Jim sees:
Had the congressional GOP gotten behind the RNC’s advice en masse in 2013, our impassioned debate, and cries of “amnesty” and “xenophobia,” would have arrived three years earlier. Instead of seeing historic wins in 2014, the party probably would have ripped itself apart, as immigration restrictionists mounted furious primary challenges to the Republicans who had defied their wishes.
The RNC report’s advocacy for a path to citizenship was a slap in the face to those Republicans who had long been angry about illegal immigration.
So, of course, finally:
It’s the failures of the past four years that make the solutions now being offered seem so tin-eared. Americans are angrier, more pessimistic, less patient — in short, fed up. Barack Obama got us into this mess. But the Republican nominee will have to openly address the anger he’s left boiling in voters if we ever hope to get out of it.
In other words: THANKS OBAMA-you divided us and now our candidate must reflect / justify that anger or else the Republican base will defect.

Makes sense, right?

Jim Gets It Wrong

Jim is a bright guy--he's well written. He's been doing this a while. What'd he get wrong? Well, for starters: there's nothing in the GOP autopsy about a path-to-citizenship. It suggests things to appeal to Hispanics like:

  • School choice
  • Family values
  • Nebulous "positive" immigration proposals
  • More money spent on presence in Hispanic media
Above all, it suggests not sending the (inadvertent, incorrect) message that the Republican Party doesn't want legal Hispanics in the US. Hence the need for training.

Nothing in there about a path-to-citizenship. The words "path-to-citizenship" do not appear in the document.

Secondly, for having "gotten it wrong" Jim has to not just read between the lines--but write between them: everything in the analysis section is fact-base. This is all hard numbers that have come out of the exit polling. It isn't wrong--it's just unpleasant.

So if Jim is a bright guy . . . why'd he miss this?

Why Jim Gets It Wrong

The reason why Jim gets it wrong is because of his conclusion: he blames Obama for the anger. The problem? The anger existed before Obama had done anything but run for office. All you have to do is look at a Sarah Palin rally in 2008--before Obama had done anything--before there was any 'failure'--to see the anger.

  • McCain getting annoyed at the right-wing talk radio guy's relentless, emphatic use of Obama's middle name?
  • McCain being annoyed at voters calling Obama a terrorist--and meaning it?
  • People circulating the story that Obama was sworn in on a Koran?
  • "I hope he fails" -- Limbaugh
  • The Day Zero meeting by the GOP (before Obama was sworn in) where the strategy to limit him to 1 term by blocking everything he tried to do happened?
Yeah? So if it's not the "failures of the last eight years" what is it?

What if the "anger" that existed in 2008 and was stoked over the next 8 years didn't come primarily from Obama's various failures but, instead, from the party itself. After all:
  • Republican media leaders made historic amounts of money pursuant to that anger.
  • The party machinery did, in fact, win historic victories due in part (The Omnivore asserts) to that anger.
  • While everyone is told that The Base's anger is "justified" most people (such as the NRO) are horrified at what it expresses itself as. That ought to be a clue.

What The Autopsy Report Understood

The Autopsy report understood was that the GOP, in 2012, told pretty much all minorities (and, erm, women as a demographic) to go get bent. This didn't work. The Omnivore thinks the RNC understood the anger in its base more clearly than Jim does--more clearly than he can--because he is invested in a view of the party as righteous, much-wronged patriots who simply have no choice but to follow someone who calls Mexicans rapists.

The problem isn't that "someone" needs to "openly address" the anger--the problem is that someone is. That someone is Donald Trump and the problem the NRO has with him is that Trump is doing it honestly--he's laying it all out for people to see. He isn't papering it over with code-words or plausible deniability. He's not moderating it.

He's just doing what The Base has wanted for 8 years and it's unseemly


  1. Like all political parties, the GOP is a coalition of people who want contradictory things. In most democracies, the way party X defeats part Y is by smoothing over its own contradictions while exposing and exploiting those of its opponent.

    The GOP should focus on winning over Asian voters (It’s not an exact comparison, but in the UK, David Cameron’s Conservatives have mostly achieved this with Hindu and Sikh voters). In the USA the policies the Democrats advocate to attract Black voters tend to negatively affect Asians far more than Whites. So there’s a Democrat weakness there waiting for the GOP to exploit.

    One problem is Evangelicals. I suspect they turn off - maybe even scare off - would-be Asian voters.

    1. Yes--analysis of Asian flight from the GOP is because it is perceived as a Christian party above an "American" one (many, of course, would argue that is the same thing).

      -The Omnivore

  2. Reminds me of