- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 18, 2013

BOSTON — Once again attempting to achieve the impossible for a single party in a two-party system, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus did his best at the RNC’s summer meeting here to show respect for the many competing strains of thought in his party.

Unfortunately for Mr. Priebus, the effort to acknowledge everyone satisfied almost no one.

Some blasted him for violating conservatism’s freedom-first principles when he won unanimous passage of a resolution to ban two major TV networks from hosting 2016 GOP presidential nomination debates.

SEE ALSO: GOP votes to bar CNN, NBC from hosting primary debates

Others hit him for quietly helping to table resolutions to undo party rules changes that Mitt Romney’s campaign had pushed through last year.

Still others hammered him for featuring as speakers neoconservative war hawk Bill Kristol, the President Obama-praising New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Sen. Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, the antagonist of social conservatives.

Similar criticisms are rare for Mr. Priebus‘ political counterparts in countries like Israel and Italy that have the luxury — and curse — of each leading one of many parties, with each catering to its own worldview but with each also incapable of governing outside a coalition with other parties.

As Mr. Priebus relearned last week, however, his GOP is the unwieldy equivalent of all of Italy’s center-right parties combined.

So when Mr. Priebus won standing ovations in Boston for leading his members into unanimously voting to bar NBC and CNN from hosting any 2016 GOP presidential nomination debates, some Republicans elsewhere in the country booed him.

RNC General Counsel John Ryder introduced the Priebus resolution, which helped solidify members’ support for him (and a possible run for a third term as chairman in 2015).

Mr. Ryder, an RNC member from Tennessee, said the ban was part of the effort, taking shape behind the scenes for more than a year, to end what the GOP regards as the practice by CNN and NBC (as well as the other major networks) of fielding debate moderators who ask what the RNC considers as silly “gotcha” questions that play to a liberal audience.

The prohibition was voted up on Friday in retaliation for the networks’ going ahead with plans to air specials on former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a probable 2016 Democratic presidential aspirant.

Since the networks are accused of listing heavily to the left, many Republicans — and even a few liberal pundits — say the Hillary specials likely will be disguised campaign ads for Mrs. Clinton.

Conservatives nevertheless doubted the wisdom of a party that claims to be informed by adherence to the Constitution to dictate to the news media what subjects they may and may not broadcast and to engage in a form of prior censorship — since the specials have yet to be produced. Some also said enforcing the ban may be problematic given that GOP cannot force its candidates to turn down any debate invitations.

“We don’t know anything about the proposed content of the Hillary documentary or episodes,” said American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas, who leads the country’s largest organization of activists on the right.

“It’s foolish grandstanding,” said Larry Eastland, California conservative activist and former Idaho GOP finance chairman. “If we cannot devise a coherent conservative/libertarian message, and nominate a candidate who can articulate it in a way that it connects to people, then we won’t win anyway.”

Story Continues →