- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2014

The Grand Old Party has been trying to reinvent and rebrand itself for a year, readying for combat in the 2014 midterms and beyond. The herculean effort is working. The Republican National Committee has made smart new hires in the social media and digital news realm, all tasked with lean and nimble outreaches to an increasingly anxious electorate. There are new, practical campaigns to woo minority voters, women and distinct demographics, and the committee has adopted the motto “Para Bellum,” which means “prepare for war” in Latin.

Fabulous.

The GOP has also introduced “Create Your American Dream,” a 30-second series of appealing video vignettes featuring five people explaining their political philosophy. Each looks into the camera and says “I am a Republican.” It is cheerful, straightforward and was produced to mark the one-year anniversary of the Growth and Opportunity Project — the original self-diagnosing initiative meant to up the Republican Party’s profile and prowess while protecting its founding values. The new ad will run in 14 key states “on traditional and nontraditional media to reach a diverse set of voters,” the producers say.

They seek the disenchanted, the disengaged, the leaners, the undecided and the ambivalent. They seek to convince a wide audience that maybe they’re Republicans — but just don’t know it. This campaign is off to a very good start. It is well-crafted, but not pretentious; it is not “cool” at all costs, or trivial. There is no hipster in plaid jammies, or women in scanty underthings asking “Are you covered” — all characters who once represented Obamacare. Republican creatives are now seeking authentic heartland folk to tell their own stories in the near future.

“We want to communicate our values to voters in states with target Senate races this fall. The best way to connect with voters is for them to hear from their friends and neighbors about the issues that are important to them,” declares committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

DEMOCRATS WAIT TO AMBUSH

Note to Mr. Priebus, et al: Keep your guard up. Stay sharp, now. A challenge awaits. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz reigns over a press conference Tuesday, poised to release an aggressive report detailing the “failure” of the aforementioned GOP reinvention.

“Exactly a year ago, RNC chairman Reince Priebus spoke at the National Press Club and laid out a plan to rebrand the Republican Party, and reach out to constituencies who fled the party in droves during the 2012 elections,” she says. “But a year later, all the Republican Party has gotten is a year older. No amount of outreach, staff hires, or changes to their primary calendar will change the fact that the GOP’s policy and rhetoric are just as out of step with the majority of American voters as ever.”

BOSSY HYPOCRISY

There has been much ado about the campaign to ban the word “bossy” in media and popular culture, pitched as a way to empower girls by boosting their self-esteem. Or something like that. Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, who originated the idea, has the support of Condoleezza Rice, ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and the Girl Scouts, among many. Yet none have complained about the use of another b-word, which appears with startling regularity on prime time TV. And that is, well, “bitch” — surely more offensive then plain old “bossy”.

Last week, the meticulous Culture and Media Institute monitored popular evening programs, including “CSI” and “Twisted.” The results: The word “bitch” — an expletive, essentially — was sprinkled through the scripts with abandon by the Hollywood scribes. But the bossy ladies are mum about such things.

“The networks have been putty in the hands of the latest PC campaign. The really degrading terms, such as the other B-word, have received no attention. Just look at entertainment TV. In the past week, so-called entertainment shows aired the word ‘bitch’ 50 times. No one’s talking about that,” researcher Katie Yoder tells Inside the Beltway.

“As a conservative young woman, I’ve been called several degrading terms for my opinions and actions. When liberals attack me, the B-word they are using isn’t ‘bossy.’ Young women don’t need to be told a silly word defines them. They need to know that they have intrinsic worth — and that they can succeed despite labels,” she adds.

FOR THE LEXICON

“The personal news cycle”

This new, snappy term has been introduced via a poll by the Media Insight Project, an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Of interest to geezers: The divide between young and old news consumers appears to be gone. Tech savvy folk of all ages have “toppled stereotypes” and created their own hybrid news, in tune with personal tastes and proclivities. “The majority of Americans across generations now combine a mix of sources and technologies to get their news each week,” the poll says.

“The findings suggest that conventional wisdom that media consumption is shaped by age or ideology is overstated and that some long-held beliefs about people relying on a few primary sources for their news are now obsolete,” says Tom Rosensteil, executive director of the American Press Institute. Find this extensive survey here: Americanpressinstitute.org

PRESS SECRETARY IN WAITING

Insiders rumble that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney will dismount the dais to become an analyst on CNN. But this is kind of a tradition. Of the last eight press secretaries, four of the last five have gone to cable news.

Ari Fleischer to CNN, the late Tony Snow to CNN [Editor’s note: Fox News as well], Dana Perino to Fox,Robert Gibbs to MSNBC,” recounts Mediaite columnist Joe Concha. “The lone exception is Scott McClellan, who apparently declined to forego personality-transplant surgery and therefore wasn’t seriously considered by any of the aforementioned networks.”

Mr. Concha adds, “Jay Carney is confrontational. His critics call him cunning and condescending. His supporters say he knows how to throw a punch. In other words, Carney would be perfect for cable news. With the midterms coming up, according to my sources, expect to see him sparring on a television set, and not from behind a podium.”

LIBERTARIAN IN WAITING

Yes, 2016 will be here before we know it. Maybe it’s already here, and we just don’t know it. Maybe the space time continuum will somehow be involved. Certainly, Gary Johnson is involved. The tenacious Libertarian presidential hopeful is keeping his spot warm on the campaign trail with public appearances, and fundraising for his “Our America” political advocacy group. On Tuesday, Mr. Johnson leaps to Twitter for a Tweet Chat at 9 p.m. ET, he says, for his 122,000 followers and anyone else. Any topic is on the table.

“I will respond to as many tweets and questions as time allows,” Mr. Johnson advises. “My personal Twitter handle is @GovGaryJohnson, and we will be using the hashtag GovGary.”

POLL DU JOUR

60 percent of American think that “scientists” believe global warming is occurring; 8 percent say scientists believe global warming is not occurring.

42 percent say the seriousness of global warming is “generally exaggerated”; 68 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of independents and 18 percent of Democrats agree.

33 percent overall say the seriousness is “generally underestimated”; 15 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 49 percent of Democrats agree.

23 percent overall say the seriousness is “generally correct”; 15 percent of Republicans, 21 percent of independents and 32 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,048 U.S. adults conducted March 6-9.

Squawks and surprised squeaks to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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