After this week’s GOP State of the Union response, it has become undeniable that someone (everyone?) in the Republican machine has no idea what they’re doing, and that is the generous assessment. The other option is that Republican leadership is deliberately sabotaging the midterm elections.
For those of us who understand the imperative of conservative victory in November, it’s obvious the GOP must respond very differently to President Obama’s yearly circus act of the State of the Union. We’ve now learned he pretty much repeats what he said the year before, so responding to it isn’t exactly rocket science.
Take, for example, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ response. Mrs. McMorris Rodgers is well-liked and smart. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at an Independent Women’s Forum event honoring her. I found her dynamic, compelling and clearly a GOP star.
Then for the State of the Union response, some self-obsessed, cave dweller from the Land of the Clueless Consultants and Speech Coaches got their paws on her, and instead of the focused, interesting and compelling woman I met in Washington, D.C., we got a woman so overprepared and controlled that the powerful and smart Mrs. McMorris Rodgers had disappeared.
Criticism of the content of the GOP response has also been well-deserved. Within the first two minutes, the Republicans assured Americans that Mr. Obama (like the GOP) wants what’s best for everyone. Really? There are many people who legitimately have every reason to not believe that. After all, this is a man who deliberately lied to the American people about one of the most important aspect of their personal lives — their health insurance and health care. To say nothing of the Internal Revenue Service, National Security Agency, Benghazi, Syria, Iran, and Fast and Furious crises (and the GOP did say nothing).
It’s easy to understand why a man to whom the “Lie of the Year” award was presented isn’t trusted to make the right decisions for America. In fact, the latest poll has found a supermajority of Americans have little or no confidence that Mr. Obama will make the right decisions for the country, while half simply don’t find him trustworthy.
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So, no, GOP, spending even one precious word when the nation is watching to support Mr. Obama or reassure people about his intentions is not your job. As a matter of fact, what people want to see is honesty about our situation, a commitment to principles and the articulation of a vision that doesn’t mirror the agenda that is sending this nation off a cliff.
Bottom line: Americans are pretty much hating everyone in Washington, specifically because of the astounding disconnect between the political class and regular people, highlighted by a president who lies to them, Democrats who cover for him and Republicans who are allowing the disaster to proceed without serious confrontation.
The Republicans’ State of the Union response delivered by Mrs. McMorris Rodgers is a perfect illustration of why voters don’t trust the GOP machine. Their overwrought, affected message insults the instinct as shallow and pandering.
If the GOP were serious about winning in November and illustrating to Americans what (and whom) the Republican Party represents, the perfect person to counter Mr. Obama’s vapid repeat of a State of the Union would have been Mia Love of Utah. Her current run for Utah’s 4th Congressional District got a boost when Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Matheson announced his retirement.
Delivering the GOP response would have presented her to a national audience (helping her campaign) and she would have delivered a message, very much like her 2012 GOP convention speech, inspiring the nation and lighting a fire under freedom-loving people all over the country.
In that speech, Mrs. Love schooled the GOP machine on the fact that a woman can be tough but not hard, unique but not remote, aggressive but not offensive. She also brought it to Mr. Obama, showing the American people — even if they disagreed with her — that she stood for something larger than herself, that she knew what the American dream meant and was not shy in being its champion.
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There is one other reason why Republicans may be acting strangely as we head into what should be another astounding GOP midterm victory: They may not want to take the Senate.
Consider the situation they would find themselves in: In control of Congress, they would have to act on promoting the conservative agenda, and that would mean actually having to stop Mr. Obama. Why else, when the truth of the liberal agenda and its failures are handing a November victory to the GOP, would their pet project for the year suddenly be immigration reform?
Perhaps the current GOP leadership prefers things as they are: not enough power to do anything conservative of consequence, while watching (and applauding as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor did during the State of the Union) the liberal agenda, including de facto amnesty, become the law of the land.
There are those who recoil at the idea of criticizing Republican leadership. The only way to push the reforms the GOP must implement — if we are to take our great nation back — is to make sure everyone knows that what is happening is not normal, and certainly not conservative.
We’re in this mess for a reason, and it’s because GOP leaders either don’t understand the conservative ideal (which is why they can’t articulate it), or they do understand it and simply don’t like it. Either way, it’s clear they’re not convincing anyone, and have failed at being “Obama Lite.”
Frankly, I wouldn’t care if the only thing at stake was a political party, but it’s not. It’s the nation’s future and your family’s future that hang in the balance. The only way we’re going to bring the conservative ideal back to power is by being honest about what’s happening to the entire political class, challenging them to change, and if they refuse, then retiring them against their will.
Tammy Bruce is a radio talk-show host, New York Times best-selling author and Fox News political contributor.