What If The RNC’s Bluff Is Called?

The Republican National Committee unanimously voted to kill their partnership with NBC and CNN for the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates unless they stop production of planned films on Hillary Clinton.

Why should either network care?

What if CNN or NBC offered candidates free national television time to debate?  Would candidates really say no?  Would anyone give up that kind of free exposure?  It’s not like the RNC can stop someone from being a candidate.  To add a twist, let’s say either network had a respected conservative to moderate or at least ask questions.

No reason either network should take this threat lying down.

Would be funny to see how Reince Priebus responded to that move.

 

Levin or Limbaugh? Either Way It’s a Mistake

There is now serious talk that the RNC is going to have Rush Limbaugh or Mark Levin moderate a debate.  This seems like a mistake for a couple of reasons.

First, it will crowd out the candidates.  Given the newness and someone like Limbaugh’s celebrity, that’s what the media would focus on in the post-debate analysis.  What the candidates actually said would get lost in the shuffle, especially for candidates not polling well.   For that reason alone it may never get off the ground.

Second, the moderators would be timid.  As radio hosts their main focus is ratings.  If they are too tough on candidates it may tick off conservatives and cost them listeners.  Also, that may cost the moderator access to politicians and notable conservatives.  So the fear of those two things will keep the host serving softball questions.

Lastly, how does it look to independent voters?  If all you’re doing is talking to other conservatives it does create the impression you are a little out of touch.

What Does Priebus Really Want?

Recent threats by the Republican National Committee to boycott CNN and NBC sponsored primary debates if the networks go ahead with planned movies on Hillary Clinton is raising great deal of media interest.  Aside from making me suddenly interested in both programs what is the RNC really trying to do here?

First,  this is not about stopping the production of either NBC’s miniseries or CNN’s documentary about the former-First Lady/U.S. Senator/Secretary of State.  I would be stunned if either network capitulated to the GOP’s demands.  As I mentioned above the controversy only helps to draw ratings.

So what is really behind all of this?

To start off with it’s a great way to rally the base.  Conservative activists are convinced the media are all out to get them so pushing back against these outlets makes it look like the GOP is finally standing up to the media after taking years of abuse.  Guesting hosting for Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingraham said it was about time and Rush Limbaugh argued it didn’t go far enough:

Right now the RNC needs to do all the base rallying it can considering the internal divisions over immigration and defunding Obamacare.  Here’s a little example of what I mean:

Also, if this goes through and CNN or NBC don’t have GOP primary debates it gives Priebus an easy excuse for having fewer debates in 2016.  There are many in the GOP who blame the 20 debates held during the primary (especially the ten held between September 7 and December 15, 2011) for weakening the eventual nominee.   Priebus himself said 2012 had a ridiculous number of debates.

So if there are fewer outlets and sponsors there will be fewer debates and the RNC can blame the biased media for limiting the number of debates, not anything intentional on their parts.

Oklahoma v Kansas - Men's Big 12 Championship

Is the RNC reading Bob Knight’s playbook?

Maybe most importantly it is a way of working the refs.  Like a college basketball coach who bitches at the refs all game long and then gets a favorable call in the clutch, the RNC is trying to wear down resistance.

Why does this work in college basketball and other sports?  Well a referee gets complained at all game that their being biased against the team and either they just get tired of hearing it or the complaining starts to get in their head the worry that they actually are biased and need to make sure they are not acting that way.  So in reaction they start going a little easier on the complaining coaches team.

If you’re the RNC and you complain how liberal CNN and NBC are being then maybe the questions your candidates get asked aren’t as hard or the formats are more friendly.  Why?  Because NBC and CNN don’t want to be seen as biased so if they do end up hosting a debate you might see them overcompensate by being too easy on the GOP candidates (i.e. not asking follow up questions).

Of course the fact that conservatives will complain about my saying that shows how good they are at working the refs.

Either way it seems the RNC figures it can rally its base and scare the networks.   If that works it will be a big win for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mustn’t See TV?

Reince Priebus

How is this man still employed?

In a sign that they really aren’t ready for prime-time the Republican National Committee told NBC and CNN they wouldn’t partner with them on future presidential debates unless both companies kill production of recently announced programs about Hillary Clinton.

Apparently, NBC is doing a miniseries on the former Secretary of State and CNN Films is making a documentary.

In retaliation for these sins, Supposedly RNC members will vote on a resolution to not partner with the networks on Republican primary debates if they do not cancel the programs.

I had to re-read this a few times to actually believe it was true.  If you’re party can’t handle dealing with a network doesn’t it raise questions if you can deal with Iran, the deficit, or global warming?  I mean we are talking about miniseries (kudos to NBC for trying to bring those puppies back) and movie no one would’ve watched – until now.

neil_kinnock

Do the opposite of what he did.

This isn’t the first time this has happened.  In 2008 the Democratic candidates said they might not go on FOX News for a debate.  Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and they went on the network.

Perhaps in a more accurate example, in the early 80’s, at the depths of electoral despair, the U.K. Labour Party boycotted all Rupert Murdoch owned media outlets.  This made their most militant supporters happy and was yet another thing that turned the general public off.  Remember, most normal people hear “we’re not going on CNN” and think “what’s wrong with you you?”

If the GOP were run by grownups, rather than complaining they should just go on NBC, CNN, or any other network, and use it as a chance to take their message to as broad an audience as possible.

 

 

 

What puts you in the Establishment

The Establishment is a term you hear a great deal in the GOP.  It’s meant to be pejorative and a way to rally your supporters as being underdogs.

What puts you in the Establishment?

One major thing is whether you have a financial and professional stake in how an election turns out.  I don’t mean “oh my taxes might go up if the Democrat wins,” I mean is your ability to make a living connected to who wins an election. The following groups of people are in the Establishment because of that clarification:

  • Elected officials
  • National party officials and staff (including people who work at RNC, NRCC, NRSC, RGA)
  • State party chairs
  • National political consultants
  • State political consultants
  • Lobbiests

If you look at those people who see a great deal of variation.  For example under this definition Ken Mehlman and Ron Paul are both part of the establishment.  Both have a financial stake in the outcomes of elections, even if they may want an election to have a different outcome.  This is not a hobby, an interest, or a cause for them – it’s a career.

What does this say about the Establishment?  More than anything it shows that the Establishment is not a monolith.  In fact, the Establishment is in a state of civil war until the party nominee is chosen.  Now some people in the Establishment don’t operate well in it but doesn’t mean they are not part of it.  No it just means they are on the losing side for now.

So if you’re not someone with a financial stake in the election what are then?  Well, that’s another post for another day.

 

Riding a Priebus off the side of the cliff

Fresh off their November 2012 ass kicking the GOP decided it was time for a new vision.  One of the first things they did was re-elect the RNC Chair, Reince Priebus, who just got done leading them into defeat.  What did they do this?  Some might say it is to double down on a losing strategy or a sign that the party is not changing at all.  That may seem plausible but I take another look.  Republicans are actually trying to a much larger point – that national party chairs (for either the Democrats or GOP) are completely irrelevant.

Consider this from 2010.  Michael Steele was a mess as RNC Chair.  He overspent and created a primary nomination system that had 54 debates.  Despite his and his staff’s missteps (including spending money at an L.A. bondage club) the GOP had a great election cycle in 2010 (even if you count their pissing away taking over the U.S. Senate) winning governorships in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maine, Ohio, Iowa, and retaking the House of Representatives.  At the same time from Virginia Governor Tim Kaine was head of the DNC and had a terrible night (he then went on to be the Senate nominee and take the seat in 2012).  However, following his party’s big wins Steele was fired and replaced with Priebus.

So what does this tell us?  Being party chair really has no impact on what voters do and never will.  So maybe the GOP is going to prove this point with Priebus because it could be him or…

fejka-artificial-potted-plant__0117268_PE272241_S4

The results will be the same.  Although the plant is much more likable.