Yesterday, I wrote about the silliness of the Democrats and Republicans holding hands and sitting together at the President's State of the Union Address. Today, I'm reversing course, because it seems evident that the Republicans are intent on being public linguine noodles. They don't want to use any stern rhetoric lest they be smitten with a media curse or (worse!) associated with That Woman, Sarah Palin. They rock, vacant and in their safe place, docile, craven and mute in the face of scurrilous accusations.
I don't see Republicans changing.
The solution, then, is to go with it. I've complained in the past about guys like John McCain, who can make the sentence, "I like peanut butter, friends" sound like a menacing threat. Key word: "Sound". Inside, though, he's mushy smush. All that tough talk is just a way to sound Mavericky while his policies are all love and give-peace-a-chance. [I may be overstating things a wee bit.]
What Republicans need to do is be the reverse. Sweet as Pecan Pie and with as much steel as a the Southern woman who made it. "Here honey, we're just gonna tweak the Health Care Bill slightly. You'll love it ya'll! Don't worry, we're making it better." And then, Obama-style, do whatever they damn well please.
Cross-posted at LibertyPundits
The Lefties are already afraid of such a tactic. A nice Republican scares them. A tough-talking one is a major tell to Democrats--they know, just as every American knows--that a tough-talking Republican is about to fold a winning hand. When a Republican slow-plays it? Danger!
The $1 Newsweek is already getting full-body shivers. Republicans being nice bodes ill. It means they're up to something, goes the reasoning:
But, like many seemingly clever, intuitive MSM/Dem strategies—"Let's nominate a Vietnam war hero to run against President Bush!"—this one may prove to be a dud, or worse. There's a reason, after all, why the White House has consistently attacked and therefore elevated relatively intemperate Republican figures such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck—making them the public faces of the GOP. The reason is that wild Beckish rhetoric turns off independent and moderate voters. For the same reason, the White House has always seemed to kind of like having the Birthers around. They're a great foil.
Why would Republican politicians ever fall into this "too hot" trap? Because hot rhetoric gins up their base. But now that they've won the House in an off year election, GOP pols don't need to please the base so much. They need the middle. They need swing congressmen to vote for their bills and they need supportive poll numbers to encourage those congressmen to do so. If a "civility" crusade succeeds in getting the most volatile Republicans to cool it and stop irritating the center, it won't be doing Obama's work for him. It will be doing John Boehner's work for him.
Hey, did you get the part where the President likes having the Birthers around? Yeah. It's true. He keeps the issue hyped up because it serves him.
Moving along to the more pressing point: The Democrats and the Press have gleefully portrayed the Republicans as extremist wackos. Of course, they're not. They're representative of the 80% of normal Americans; they're mainstream. It's the Democrats who have been wildly out of step with America. But the press controls the narrative and so, the incessant drumbeat wears on everyone, especially Republicans wanting to increase majorities.
Newsweek editors fear the truth: That a civil environment will constrain THEM. And Republicans being quieter, more reserved, more modest, will cause an even more stark contrast. In the past couple of years, even mild-mannered Republicans were outraged by the oversteps of the Democrats (remember John Boehner's fiery speech on the eve of the Health Care vote?). John Boehner and his leadership have adopted a very restrained, quiet tone. They've gone along with Democrat civility nonsense. While childish and self-serving (for Liberal ideas are invariably childish and self-serving), the Republicans lose nothing, if...
The Republicans lose nothing, IF they show some principle and stay strong policy-wise. That remains to be seen.
The Republicans risk losing their support. They risk undermining their messages. They risk everything if they do not hew to the principles that got them elected: fiscal discipline, cutting the size and scope of government entitlements, valuing the Constitutional role of the government.
A kinder, gentler Republican won't be bad, as long as there's some conviction underneath. Time will tell if the Republicans' rhetorical restraint is smart or just another version of them rolling over for a more bullying Left.