The Politico is reporting (read: let's wait for a second source to confirm it) that the RNC, well, "[t]he Republican National Committee has chosen a Karl Rove-linked voter data project called Liberty Works to help it compete with Democrats in the digital arena. Liberty Works will team up with Data Trust, whose chairman of the board is former RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski confirmed to Politico."
This is deeply troubling, if accurate, because I maintain the GOP must distance itself from the Bush administration players to start being successful again. Further, for all of Karl Rove's fine attributes, he is also largely a direct mail guy who learned at the foot of Lee Atwater and never really learned anything after Atwater passed. I'm just not sure, after the 2012 race, that this is a wise investment. Direct mail guys believe the data is the value and what Team Obama discovered is that the tools to analyze the data are the value.
This concerns me. As a friend said on twitter yesterday, the GOP motto for fixing itself seems to be "incest is best."
And this whole thing, excepting the incest crack, gets me to Rush Limbaugh.
I keep hearing people say Rush Limbaugh is a detriment to the Republican Party, holding it back, and if we cannot move beyond him we will never win again. Frank Luntz and S. E. Cupp both have taken after Limbaugh lately and they are not alone.
The way I see it, Rush Limbaugh is a fighter. The guys who have taken to actually fighting on values like Rush does, i.e. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul have been putting all the points on the board. They're keeping the fight against Obamacare alive just as the GOP is trying to cave and public animosity for the law grows. But for those three, we'd have gun control legislation. On the House side, the Republican Fight Club of Congressmen Amash, Bridenstine, Broun, Gohmert, Huelskamp, Jones, Massie, Pearce, Salmon, and Yoho have been the only ones leading the fight to stop the Republicans from expanding government at a time distrust of government is a commonly held sentiment.
Limbaugh gives voice to them and those who listen to Limbaugh encourage them. The guys with the spine are the ones we should be supporting and they are the ones Rush Limbaugh supports. But there is something else, which goes full circle to Karl Rove controlling the data.
If you disagree with Rush Limbaugh, he may note that disagreement on the air. You might get some angry constituents calling your office. But that's it. He'll be right, you'll be wrong, but life will go on.
If you disagree with the other side of the GOP, though, they'll plant stories about you in the New York Times, make sure the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal attacks you, threaten donors and demand they withhold money from you, take away your committee positions, shut down all your legislative initiatives, etc. That's why the GOP should not put data in Karl Rove's hands.
The establishment has a worse track record on candidates that those who'd side with Rush Limbaugh. They have an even worse track record on policy (how'd steel tariffs in Pennsylvania work out?). And if you do not tow their line that often loses, they will punish you in ways Rush Limbaugh never would or even could.
But these guys would have you believe it is Rush Limbaugh on the outside, and Senators Cruz, Lee, and Paul and Congressmen Amash, Bridenstine, Broun, Gohmert, Huelskamp, Jones, Massie, Pearce, Salmon, and Yoho who are the ones holding us back. Only among Washington Republicans is that fantasy a reality.
I think the RNC is making a big mistake. The one hope is that conservative super PACs will respond in kind or Karl Rove and the RNC can make clear now that they will not treat the data and the tools to analyze the data as treasure, denying it to the rest of the Republican coalition they just happen to disagree with or cannot control.