Pawlenty: Talk Radio ‘Part of the Coalition, Not the Whole Coalition’

By
Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 9:24 am

Politico’s report on whether Republicans “are being wounded by the flamboyant rhetoric and angry tone of conservative activists and media personalities” is worth reading for the quotes from top Republicans, most of whom amble around the question. Of the currently relevant figures (sorry, Bob Michel), Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) is the boldest.

The commentators are part of the coalition, not the whole coalition. The party needs to be about addition, not subtraction — but not at the expense of watering down its principles.

Nonetheless, I think the story misses something about the party’s Glenn Beck problem. It’s not just that conservative pundits like Beck, Rush Limbaugh, et al., are unpopular and controversial. It’s that they drive the GOP into very strange places.

The Democrats are in worse political shape than they were a year ago because unemployment is at 9.8 percent, the war in Afghanistan has grown less popular, and the bailouts of struggling banks are seen as wastes of money that haven’t worked. Republicans benefit when they talk about this stuff. But Beck and the others don’t let them talk about this stuff. For the past few months, they have moved the discussion onto fantasy terrain, accusing the president of reaching for dictatorial powers and surrounding himself with “radicals” who want to destroy capitalism.

In retrospect, the successful campaign against Van Jones, the former green jobs czar who resigned in September, was the turning point in the relationship between commentators and Republicans. Elected Republicans were not really talking about Jones until after Beck, with material from WorldNetDaily and conservative groups, had spent weeks pounding Jones for old, on-the-record quotes about how he’d once considered himself a “communist” and how Republicans were “a-holes.” When Beck discovered, via conservative blogger Jim Hoft, that Jones had signed a “9/11 truth” petition, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) became the first Republican to demand his resignation. And when Jones quit, Beck and the conservative commentary class gained clout. Since then, Republicans have obsessively gone after the president’s “czars” (a nonsense issue I’ve dealt with in the past) and after specific members of the administration, like “safe schools czar” Kevin Jennings and White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, whom conservative commentators were attacking for their past statements and associations.

This isn’t to say Republicans have been distracted or unsuccessful in Congress. They’ve certainly scored victories during this period. And by paying attention to these conservative witch hunts, they’ve definitely kept their base revved up. But in the current political context, it seems like they’re missing the forest for some shrubs. It’s as if Democrats tried to press their advantages in 2005 not by going after the Iraq War or the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina, but by spending weeks attacking mid-ranking members of his administration and claiming that President George W. Bush was driving the nation toward fascism. And remember, one of the huge political mistakes of 2005 was the Republican decision to do a full-court press on an issue that had come from conservative activists and pundits: the fate of Terri Schiavo.

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20 Comments

Tweets that mention Pawlenty Knocks Glenn Beck, Oh-So-Gently « The Washington Independent -- Topsy.com
Pingback posted October 22, 2009 @ 9:26 am

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Matthew Yglesias » Beck Capture
Pingback posted October 22, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

[...] post this morning about the problems a political movement runs into when it lets itself be led by charlatan media personalities: The Democrats are in worse political shape than they were a year ago because unemployment is at [...]


John
Comment posted October 22, 2009 @ 7:06 pm

They should be frightened.
They RNC has offered little in leadership and no support for the conservative causes (Tea Party, Spending revolt, Obamacare, Tax and Spend DNC) they except our help but back their prized and picked elite RINOs. They stand in the corner and whine like an Obamabot instead of standing and fighting for conservative values. The current leadership is the reason we are so angry and the reason the country has such a negative opinion of Republicans. They continue provide cover for the corrupt unions hoping for payback (no chance you do not have a (D) after your name). Obamacare without Tort reform is useless and will not reduce cost of healthcare, but all they do is whimper. Obamacare will increase the out of pocket cost for every family in America and they whimper. The carbon tax will increase the cost of living for every family in America and they whimper. The Obama administration will eliminate the middle class in America before 2012 and they do nothing.


danielbland
Comment posted October 22, 2009 @ 9:32 pm

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Please leave a comment voicing your support for this idea. It is a very small price to pay considering everything that has happened in our world based on the tragic events of that fateful September morning.

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erikdered
Comment posted October 23, 2009 @ 1:14 am

So did you even really read this article?


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Trackback posted October 23, 2009 @ 8:38 am

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by TWI_news: Pawlenty Knocks Glenn Beck, Oh-So-Gently http://bit.ly/7tEqG...


ottovbvs
Comment posted October 23, 2009 @ 1:15 pm

This commentary might make sense to the political junkies that hang out in places like this but it's way too nuanced for most people. It also makes certain assertions like the bank bailouts are perceived as a waste of money which are somewhat questionable. A lot of these “issue” polls need to be taken with a large pinch of salt since most of the conclusions seem to be contradictory. If you look at the broad issue and personality polls it's true Obama appears to have shed the halo he had right after the election but he's basically held onto to the coalition that elected him. Does anyone really think if Obama/Biden v McCain/Palin was re-run tomorrow that he wouldn't actually increase his majority. Meanwhile bedevilled by a leadership vacuum that has allowed the media drummers to take center stage Republicans are increasingly perceived as basically losing their marbles. That's why their id is shrinking, people don't want to be associated with nut case. Despite all the chortling because Obama is back in the low fifties I see no evidence whatever that there's a Republican wave building…..quite the contrary in fact. The only people invested in this fiction are the Republicans themselves and media screenwriters working on their latest plot to hold their audience.


MarkJ
Comment posted October 23, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

I guess the Republicans could attack along those angles except for the fact that:

1) It was a Republican President that bailed out Wall Street. It's hard to attack the Democrats for doing something wasteful when it was your own party leader that actually wasted the money.

2) Ditto on Afghanistan – President Bush started the war and managed it for 7-plus years. It's hard to criticize the war when the Republican guy managed that effort for an order of magnitude longer, with no better results, than the guy now in charge.

3) The recession started in December of 2007. Most of the public still blames the Bush administration for it, and are willing to give Obama more time to turn things around. Attacking on the recession just reminds people again who got us into the mess.

In short, it's hard to attack the new President when it was the former President of your own party who created the messes you want to use as your basis for attack.


Bad Strategy… « Seven Sins, Inc.
Pingback posted October 23, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

[...] Dave Weigel wonders why, when the Democrats are on the ropes, Republicans can’t get their strategy right: The Democrats are in worse political shape than they were a year ago because unemployment is at [...]


Where to Go Now « Just Above Sunset
Pingback posted October 24, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

[...] This is quite a mess, but in the Washington Independent, David Weigel argues that at least they have the Republicans: [...]


monkey99
Comment posted October 25, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

It's just the Repubs use of Goebbel's axiom. Again, and again, and again. For a party that accuses others of being “fascist”, I find it curious no one else sees this.

Beck may turn out to be the Dems best buddy, after he destroys the Republican party, with his nonsense. If only he knew………..


VinceP1974
Comment posted November 6, 2009 @ 10:26 pm

I love how the Democrats can say whatever nasty crap they want … and you see none of this hand-wringing.

give it a rest already.


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