Can’t we all just get along?

So this is what we’ve come to?  Patterico is fighting with Jeff, The Crunchy Cons are fighting with Paleo (which is to say Palin) Cons, and we’re all fighting over whether Rush is the right person to lead our party, or our movement, into the next phase.  Iowahawk has a particularly funny sendup of the whole thing;

My reference, obviously, was to the self-styled luminaries of “populism” who hang like a millstone around the Republican neck — the Sarah Palins, the Plumbing Joes, the Bobby Jindals, the Rush Limbaughs, the motley middlebrow state college pretenders to the conservative throne. A shared contempt for these arriviste oafs unites the Nassau summitteers perhaps even more than our shared fondness for a snifter of well-behaved armagnac VSOP.

uh-huh.

All of this is singularly un-helpful and, as Ace points out;

This is fundamentally an unserious and unimportant issue. And those who keep fighting it are apparently happy to dwell on the trivialities and distractions that Obama has admitted he’s cooked up for precisely the purpose of distracting you.

Ta-daa.

So what’s the real issue?  The Republican Party lost the last election and hasn’t had an impressive showing in an election since, when ’96?  I mean beating Gore was good (and thank you George Bush for that), and beating Kerry was fine, but other than Bush, the GOP hasn’t had a solid win in a long time.  We’d been losing our Congressional majorities for ten years before we lost them.  And figuring out who’s right and what we need to fight about involves figuring out why we’re on a ten year slide even though at the beginning of the decade it looked like the Democrats were the one who were going to have to re-design their party.

I think the answer can be found at the Coyote Blog

Seriously, looking back on it, did the Republican Congress between the ‘01 tax cuts and prescription drug disaster and when they were tossed in ‘06 leave any kind of legislative footprint behind?  Jeez, Republicans are whining now about all kinds of stuff, but what were they doing for 6 years?  Offshore drilling is a classic example.  They whined about the Democrats blocking more drilling last year, but what did they do about it the previous years when they controlled Congress and the White House?  I honestly think they were waiting for Bush to do something by executive order and take away any political responsibility off their shoulders.

The GOP didn’t lose because they pursued a Conservative Agenda, and they didn’t lose because they didn’t.  They lost because they didn’t do anything of note.  They were perfectly happy to fiddle away and allow Bush to take the lead and take all the heat as their majority burned around them.

Congressional Republicans, as long as they were acting on a conservative agenda, were fine, and even when they departed from that agenda they were fine, as long as they were seen to be doing something.  During Bush’s Presidency, they decided that their best bet was to keep their heads down and let Bush make all the decisions and take all the flak.  If things went well, they get Presidential coat-tails and if things went poorly, then they could claim they didn’t really support that program after all.

I’m sure in the media firestorm that followed the Iraq War and the wiretaps and all that jazz, it seemed wise to stay as far away from Bush as possible, while at the same time not curtailing his agenda.  But outside of the beltway bullhorn, the American people want their Congress Critters to do something, to stand for something, to lead us somewhere.

Without that leadership, the Congress was easily painted as nothing but a lobbyist’s shopping mall.  Scandals got painted with a broad-brush (excepting Democratic scandals of course), and the whole stinking lot of them got thrown out.  They didn’t get thrown out because of the War or the Economy or even their “Conservative Agenda”.  They got thrown out precisely because they couldn’t be seen to be doing anything at all.

So that’s the congressional problem.  The other problem was that the GOP relied entirely upon the Bush White House’s communication efforts to set a message and get it to the American people and they failed miserably.  The Bush communication team has got to become an object lesson in how not to speak to the American people (and the world for that matter).

Yes, as conservatives we are always going to be fighting an uphill battle against the media titans, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done effectively.  Congressional and National GOP leaders left the field entirely to Bush (again, probably because they weren’t sure whether he was a liability or an asset, so they chickened out and hoped to gain some or lose little), and this proved to be a disaster.

So, what about Rush, and his five little words (“I hope President Obama fails”)?  Patterico and company are right in that the media is going to twist our words to our opponent’s advantage at any oppurtunity so we shouldn’t make it easy for them, but Jeff Goldstein is right in that it doesn’t matter how “nuanced” we become, the media and the democrats and the victim’s leagues are going to twist our words anyway.

It is impossible to speak in a way that cannot be misinterpreted, especially when your interpreter is trying to paint you as maliciously as possible.

Conservatism does best when it speaks most clearly and directly to the American people, when it sets an agenda and follows it.  The Contract with America may be derided in newrooms, but it is still loved whenever conservatives get together to talk about what they have done right in the past.

A new contract may not be what is necessary, but neither are mincy words and milquetoast RINOs.

Rush is Rush, let him be Rush.  And when the media approaches our remaining Congressman with the question “what do you think about what Rush said?”  The answer should be, “I’m here to talk about what our President has done, not about what some media personality has said…” and then get back on the topic of Obama embarrassing the country with his diplomacy or destroying our economy with his socialist agenda.

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