The GOP can’t win in 2016 by thinking inside the box.
The usual criteria for political success — plenty of New York and Washington IOUs, youthful vigor, good looks, glibness, access to lots of money — aren’t sufficient any longer to galvanize the Republican party or get out the conservative vote. Instead, the next Republican nominee should meet four criteria that are rarely mentioned.
Being liked by the media is no plus. In the 2008 primaries the media preferred John McCain as a reasonable moderate, at least compared with the primary alternatives, and in 2012 they preferred Mitt Romney. Once the primaries were over, both candidates reverted to their prior demonic status among journalists.
So why not nominate a Republican who never addresses a celebrity journalist as “Candy,” or “Katie,” or “Brian,” or “George,” but instead politely says Mr. this or Ms. that, avoiding any suggestion of either intimacy or paranoid dislike. Distanced formality is the key with the media.
The candidates’ own desire to appear accommodating to the press has led mostly to media contempt. For a while in 2008 we were treated to wild charges that John McCain had had an affair; debate moderator Candy Crowley interrupted the give-and-take to join sides with Barack Obama. Romney’s sins were supposedly impolite behavior as a high-schooler and putting a pet in a cage on his car roof. He also did not say hello often enough to his trash collector. The next nominee should not just expect to be disliked by the New York/Washington-nexus press, but must learn to welcome that disdain as honorific rather than cower before it. Here the key would be to question the premise and motive of typical gotcha questions rather than to give the sort of logical answers that will be selectively edited to appear pejorative. By and large, journalists are more bullies than geniuses. They tend to be toadyish, not principled and courageous. Playing by their rules and seeking their approval are suicidal for any conservative candidate.
Read more: VDH’s Private Papers