Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich yesterday published an article in Human Events that received a lot of attention on cable news and on the web. The title says it:
Regular readers of this space will recognized a lot of familiar themes while reading Newt’s article. Evidently it’s now official: the national GOP has completed its imitation of the Illinois GOP.
It’s very important to note that Newt is not directing his fire at “grassroots” organizations, or think tanks, or Republican activists. He’s aiming at the ELECTED REPUBLICANS in the Congress. One of our ongoing arguments is that the public looks primarily to office holders and candidates for political and governmental information, and not to independent groups.
Gingrich cited two recent Republican losses in what were solidly GOP Congressional seats (the Louisiana Sixth Congressional District and that of former Speaker Dennis Hastert). Gingrich says this should be a wake up call and that it’s time to change behavior if they want to see a different result.
The article listed poll numbers – Americans disapprove of President George W. Bush’s performance 63 to 28, and Newt noted that “…he has been below 40% job approval since December 2006, the longest such period for any president in the history of polling.”
“A separate New York Times/CBS Poll shows that a full 81 percent of Americans believe the economy is on the wrong track.
The current generic ballot for Congress according to the NY Times/CBS poll is 50 to 32 in favor of the Democrats. That is an 18-point margin, reminiscent of the depths of the Watergate disaster.”
Newt says the old strategies won’t work this time:
“The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama, anti- Reverend Wright, or (if Senator Clinton wins), anti-Clinton campaign, they are simply going to fail.”
This is pretty incredible:
“A February Washington Post poll shows that Republicans have lost the advantage to the Democrats on which party can handle an issue better — on every single topic.”
The list of issues included the deficit, taxes, and even terrorism. On the subject of the terrorism, we’ve been vocal about what behavioral changes are required from our political leadership.
By the way, we’ve been told by one Illinois Congressional candidate that he’s being discouraged by high powered political consultants in Washington D.C. to stay away from the subject of the War in Iraq. If you wonder how we get such miserable leadership on the big issues, that’s partly how it happens.
More of the same behavior from the same types of Republican candidates and office holders isn’t going to regain the trust that has been lost. Newt calls it a “catastrophic collapse of trust in Republicans built up over three generations…”
So, Newt says the U.S. House Republicans need to call an emergency members only conference and get in motion. They need a new plan, Gingrich says, and it should –
“…involve real change in legislative, communications, and campaign strategy and involve immediate, real action, including a complete overhaul of the Congressional Campaign Committee.”
Let’s take them one at a time.
“Legislative” – we’ve said as much many times.
“Communications” – we’ve emphasized this over and over again.
And for “campaign strategy” – we’ve been vocal about that general topic.
Gingrich’s call for an overhaul of the Congressional Campaign Committee makes it seem like he shares as much confidence in the leadership there that we have.
Newt then says if a majority of House Republicans don’t want to change, then –
“…the minority who are activists should establish a parallel organization dedicated to real change. This group should focus its energies on creating the changes necessary to survive despite a conference with a minority mindset that accepts defeat rather than fights for real change…”
Newt then lists “Nine Acts of Real Change That Could Restore the GOP Brand.” Click here to read them, as well as Newt’s entire article.
©2008 John Francis Biver