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North Korea, Iran and the Healthcare Debate

Friday, May 29, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The debate over Judge Sotomayor is fascinating, but also risks diverting conservatives into an ultimately fruitless expenditure of scarce resources in the coming three months.

With a 59-40 split in the Senate, Judge Sotomayor will almost certainly be confirmed, and though some sustained and focused questioning should occur at her hearings (especially on the subject of “superprecedents”), I expect that like Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, she will shine in these hearings because federal appeals court judges are simply much more skilled in such settings than most senators. The controversies surrounding her that have surfaced will, absent some unknown series of revelations, not derail her confirmation, so time and money spent trying to do so is time and money wasted at a crucuial moment in the country’s life.

Abroad we face enormous dangers from the nuclear ambitions of Iran and the nuclear recklessness of North Korea. President Obama seems wholly unconcerned –removed even– from these twin crises, and as my conversations with Mark Steyn, Christopher Hitchens and John Bolton over the past few days demonstrate, this is alarming because the risks from both rogue regimes are so real. I wrote one of my radio colleagues yesterday that Benjamin Netanyahu is the de facto leader of the world’s realists right now, as both President Obama and Prime Minister Brown don’t seem to want to be bothered by these terrorist regimes, as though ignoring them can make them disappear. Conservatives must continually call attention to the fact that America is in fact doing nothing as the menace grows, and outline the sorts of steps that could be taken by President Obama if and when he awakens to the menace.

On health care the opportunities for activism and effectiveness are much more real. President Obama yesterday urged his national political organization to call Congress to press for passage of radical health care restructuring –a demand that his most loyal supporters in turn demand approval of a bill that hasn’t yet been written! The call for blind allegiance to an unwritten bill signals that the Administration has zero interest in anything other than a political triumph, no matter the cost or effect on the amazing health care system the U.S. currently enjoys. This attitude –political wins over everything else– has defined the first four months of the Obama Administration and will continue to dominate it unless and until Republicans and responsible Democrats join together to stop the sudden, hard left lurch of the Obama agenda.

That has to happen on health care, and it means identifying and lobbying the 50 or so House Democrats and the 10 key Democratic senators who are most likely to oppose the “government option”/single payer meltdown that looms. Why no such list of the Democrats on whom most of the attention must be focused has yet been developed is amazing, but hopefully it will emerge soon.

In the meantime, I continue to request that doctors who see what is coming if the Obama/Pelosi/Reid rationing plan advances send me their analysis at hugh@hughhewitt.com for posting here as appropriate (with or without names as requested), and for everyone to research the most moderate Democratic House members in their states and contact their offices to urge that American health care not be endangered by the radical rewrite being pushed by the president.

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“Free Our Healthcare Now!” Petition

Thursday, May 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

President Obama took to the phone from Air Force One today to urge pressure on Congress to pass an as-yet-unwritten bill.

Push back via this petition. Send the link to 10 friends.

A Conversation With Lawrence O’Donnell

Thursday, May 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Lawrence O’Donnell appears on my program at least yearly, and usually a memorable few exchanges result. Yesterday’s conversation was no exception. I began with the transcript of Larry’s exchange with Liz Cheney in hand, the one in which he had asserted about “enhanced interrogation techniques” that “[t]his government has prosecuted people in the past for doing exactly this.” Of course he meant waterboarding, so I asked him for his back-up to that assertion, which he lacked. During the break he consulted wikipedia, and referred my audience to the case of Major Edwin Glenn, prosecuted for his conduct during the Spanish-American War, but after O’Donnell had departed, Lileks sent me a note pointing out the fact that Glenn had been prosecuted for using the “water cure,” not waterboarding. Intentional misinformation, or just Larry’s inability to navigate wikipedia at high speed?

Much more revealing was our final few exchanges.

We were discussing the A.Q. Khan network and the Bush-Cheney role in its dismantling, and I was able to ask him about his general knowledge of the war against terror. The full transcript of the interview is below and the podcast is here. I think Larry’s approach to commentary about the war is fairly representative of that which you get generally on MSNBC and various other precincts of the left. Here’s the key exchange:

HH: Did you read The Nuclear Jihadist by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins?

LO’D: No.

HH: He’s John Kerry’s senior investigator on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Sound pretty reputable to you?

LO’D: Keep going.

HH: The A.Q. Khan network is gone, dismantled.

LO’D: I know they’re gone, and I know, and that’s a great thing. But let’s just get a couple of things straight. Cheney did nothing about it, not one meeting, from the day he was sworn in until September 10th. He did nothing about al Qaeda, nothing about the A.Q. Khan network, nothing.

HH: In the eight years of…

LO’D: The guy wants you to rate his job starting on September 12th. Do you want to start rating the Obama presidency on September 12th of 2009? Do you want to do it that way?

HH: Larry, that’s a specious argument, but I want to get one more piece of data out there. Have you read The Looming Tower yet?

LO’D: No.

HH: What was the last book you read about terrorism?

LO’D: The last…I don’t think I’ve read a book about terrorism.

HH: Ever?

LO’D: No.

HH: About al Qaeda?

LO’D: No.

HH: About…how about the mullahs in Iran?

LO’D: No.

HH: I’m just stunned.

LO’D: Well, I’ll tell you, I’ve read Bob Woodward’s books about the accounts inside the Bush administration from what they were doing from the day they got sworn in, okay?

HH: You’ve never read a book about terrorism?

LO’D: There is no, there is absolutely no evidence, and I defy you today, Hugh,

HH: Larry, you’ve never read a book about terrorism?

LO’D: I defy you to point to me, point to me a citation of one memo or one meeting that Dick Cheney was in where he says anything about al Qaeda.

HH: Larry, I’ve got to go lie down. I really do. Do you think you’re a well-informed MSNBC, by MSNBC standards, do you think you’re above the grade of people on that network?

LO’D: That’s a trick question, Hugh.

HH: You got me.

The last question was a trick question, because either Larry would have had to admit to being the worst prepared pundit on the least-informed network, or he would have had to drag everyone else down to his level of (non) reading and analysis. No matter where he ranks on the MSNBC scale of woeful commentary bereft of fact and value, Larry’s cheerful owning up to a complete indifference to any book learning on the war is far beyond startling.

Here’s the entire transcript:

HH: Welcoming back to the Hugh Hewitt Show MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell. Larry, welcome, it’s always a pleasure to have you.

LO’D: Good to be back, Hugh.[# More #]

HH: Now Joe Sestak, Congressman, Democrat Congressman of Pennsylvania, reported by Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post, to be planning to run against Arlen Specter. Who should Democrats vote for in that one, Larry?

LO’D: I’m not a Pennsylvania Democrat. I won’t have to make the choice. You know, I think the Democrats will be in a strong position in the general election, so you know, I don’t think there’s a strategic vote that is better for Democrats in the primary there, who have, you know, with an eye on winning the general. I just don’t see it.

HH: But an old guard lefty like you, Larry, shouldn’t you be supporting a regular Democrat like Joe Sestak as opposed to a fence-jumper like Arlen?

LO’D: Oh, who I…if the question is who would I personally vote for?

HH: Yeah.

LO’D: Well, I never answer that question publicly, but I will for you, Hugh.

HH: Thank you.

LO’D: I would probably vote for the Admiral.

HH: Very good, thank you, Larry. That’s what I think Democrats are going to do, by the way. I think Arlen’s in big trouble if he gets in.

LO’D: Yeah, you know, I just…I mean, look, there’s a couple of problems with it just at a very…if you want to look at it, I mean, having worked in the Senate, I guess I do look at it strategically in a longer term. If Arlen wins, when he is sworn in for his next term, he’s going to be 81 years old. You know, that’s a pretty good time, normally, for a party to look to somebody younger who might be able to hold the seat for another 20 years.

HH: I agree. Democrats should dump him. Okay, Larry, let’s get to the big debate you had with Liz Cheney on waterboarding a few days back.

LO’D: Yeah.

HH: You said people have been prosecuted for exactly this. Did you mean for waterboarding?

LO’D: Yeah.

HH: Who?

LO’D: Well, we’ve done it, you know, this country has prosecuted that, that, torture method before.

HH: When?

LO’D: Um, I don’t know, what’s…I think it is was…umm, I don’t know. I…you know, I’ve…I know that we’ve done it, and I don’t have the research in front of me as to exactly when we’ve prosecuted who for it and which conflict.

HH: Because you told MSNBC, “This government has prosecuted people in the past for doing exactly this.”

LO’D: Yeah, let me, I’ll get the internet fired up. I’ll find it for you.

HH: And for waterboarding specifically?

LO’D: Sure.

HH: You’re sure about that?

LO’D: Well, let’s…come on, we’ve got all the time in the world here with the internet. We’ll find it.

HH: But if you’re wrong…

LO’D: Oh, if I’m wrong, then I’ll be corrected.

HH: Will you post that on the Huffington Post, we never prosecuted anyone for just waterboarding?

LO’D: I post, you know, a couple of times a year. I’m too lazy to post it.

HH: But I mean, this is a big deal. Everyone saw this debate, Larry. If you’re flat-out just Smokin’ Joe wrong, shouldn’t you publish something about that?

LO’D: Um, maybe. I’ll have to look at it.

HH: Now you’re a lawyer, aren’t you?

LO’D: No.

HH: Okay, you just played one on TV?

LO’D: I do play a lawyer on TV, yeah.

HH: Do you know what a specific intent crime is as opposed to a general intent crime?

LO’D: Yeah.

HH: Okay. Torture’s a specific intent crime, correct?

LO’D: Yes.

HH: Why do people who waterboard SEALs and pilots in our training not get prosecuted for torture?

LO’D: It’s the same reason boxers don’t get prosecuted for assault and battery.

HH: Which is?

LO’D: That’s there’s an agreement among the parties to do this, and so that obviates what would be normally assault and battery charges on the boxing match, for example.

HH: And so is there anything that a…do you think that the SEALs and the pilots have anything that cannot be done to them when they agree to go through the survival evasion resistance training?

LO’D: Sorry, I’m just going to Wikipedia on waterboarding.

HH: What did you find?

LO’D: Say it again? Do I think what?

HH: Yeah, is there anything we can’t do, the SEALs and the pilots, they sign up for this survival evasion…

LO’D: Oh, yeah. Sure, no, you will find there are prosecutions, and this I know about, because I know a lawyer who’s handling one. There are prosecutions in the military occasionally for a drill instructor, for example, severely beating…

HH: Sure, but when you sign up for the survival evasion resistance training, it gets pretty intense. Do they get a complete waiver no matter what our people do to them? Because I don’t think that’s really why they’re not prosecuted. It’s not the agreement. It’s the intent not to injure.

LO’D: No, there would be things that you would not be allowed to do.

HH: Right, and so, but why do you think, then, if they’re really putting, if waterboarding is so awful, how can we do it to our own troops?

LO’D: Well, Hugh, the reason we do it is to prepare them for torture. Because we believe waterboarding is torture, we put them through what they call torture training. That’s why they do it. And I know someone…

HH: Larry, I don’t believe as a matter of law…

LO’D: Hugh…

HH: I think you’re wrong.

LO’D: Hugh, I was speaking with someone who went through the program last week, went through it years ago, was a Navy SEAL. And he thinks it’s torture. He also thinks it’s a waste of time, because he doesn’t think it works, and he doesn’t think there is a preparation for torture.

HH: Now if I get five guys to call up and say whoever you were talking to is out of his mind, it’s not torture, and it does help them, does that make me right and you wrong, or vice versa?

LO’D: No, it just puts us in that anecdotal, unwinnable position.

HH: Right, as opposed to actually saying someone’s been prosecuted for it.

LO’D: Right.

HH: That’s not anecdotal. That’s a statement of fact.

LO’D: Yeah, that is. So I’ve got my back to the wall on that, Hugh. I’m speed-reading here through Wikipedia.

HH: Did you find anything yet?

LO’D: No, I haven’t. [long pause]

HH: If I had the Jeopardy! music, I’d be playing it right now, Larry.

LO’D: You’re asking me too many questions. I haven’t gotten through the first paragraph of it yet.

HH: All right, now you also got all over Chris Matthews saying that Vice President Cheney had lied about this, lied about that, and you said he lied about the fact that closing Gitmo would cost taxpayer money. It would.

LO’D: No, Hugh, let’s go, let’s go…this is when I wish I wasn’t so lazy, and I had the Vice President’s quote in front of me, which you…

HH: I’ve got it.

LO’D: Go ahead, read exactly the sentence. Let’s do that.

HH: Oh, I’ve got to use this one. I outlined this one, because you said he didn’t say that we’d stop, you said he had said we stopped using the word terrorist? Here’s what he said. “You can sense the problem and the emergence of euphemism, it’s drive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and the terrorist enemy. Apparently, using the term war where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth, we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as ‘overseas contingency operations.'”.

LO’D: Hugh, did Obama use the word war in his speech?

HH: Yeah, he did.

LO’D: Yeah. So was the Vice President lying about Obama on that?

HH: No, he didn’t say that. Apparently using…

LO’D: Oh, he didn’t use the word Obama.

HH: You wanted…exactly. You wanted me to quote the speech. That’s why I have it here.

LO’D: Oh, I get it. That’s why I called the Vice President’s speech sleazy.

HH: What do you think about the term “overseas contingency operations,” Larry?

LO’D: I don’t know what it means, but I know that the Vice President was trying, in his sleazy way, this is what I meant by sleazy, he was trying in a very sleazy way to ascribe all of these things to Barack Obama.

HH: Actually, he was not.

LO’D: Yes, he was.

HH: He does not.

LO’D: Well, we disagree on that, Hugh.

HH: In fact, he says…okay, here we go.

LO’D: Because he doesn’t use the word Obama in the sentence, you let him off the hook and I don’t.

HH: No, “in event of another terrorist attack on America,” I’m quoting here, “the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, ‘manmade disaster.'” Do you think that’s an attempt to attribute manmade disaster to the President?

LO’D: Yeah, he is. He’s trying to do all that.

HH: But he quoted the Homeland Security Department, which actually said that, Larry.

LO’D: Have you quoted Obama’s speech to your audience at all?

HH: We played some of it.

LO’D: The parts where he uses all the language…

HH: But Larry, you just said the President…

LO’D: What about the parts where he uses all the language that Cheney says he doesn’t?

HH: Larry, that’s an evasion. You said the Vice President attempted to attribute this to Obama. In fact, he attributed manmade disaster by name to the Homeland Security Department.

LO’D: And you don’t think he wanted anyone in the audience to think that that’s Obama’s approach?

HH: Well, only a moron when he says the Homeland Security Department would think he meant President Obama.

LO’D: Geez. Okay.

HH: Are you going to stick around for the next segment?

LO’D: Oh, love it.

HH: Okay, read the whole Wikipedia thing and find a prosecution.

LO’D: Give me an extra couple of minutes during the break to find this thing on Wikipedia.

HH: You’ve got four minutes.

LO’D: Okay, I’m looking.

HH: Remember, a prosecution specifically for torture, Larry O’Donnell, a specific waterboarding only torture prosecution.
- – – –

HH: Larry, and I was looking over at Huffington Post for your latest post, and I see you’re in December, you said that Caroline Kennedy was the most qualified person for the job of United States Senator. What were you drinking that day?

LO’D: Well, what I said was she was the best choice for them to make under the circumstances. Let me just tell you what my Wikipedia report is, Hugh. In 1902, Major Edwin Glenn was court-martialed, an American soldier was court-martialed for waterboarding in the Philippines. There’s a World War II section here which I’ll have to read at the next commercial break. But I’ve got two so far, two prosecutions so far here just on Wikipedia in the Spanish-American War…

HH: Just for waterboarding?

LO’D: Yeah, just for waterboarding.

HH: Waterboarding alone?

LO’D: Yeah, just for waterboarding, and Teddy Roosevelt at the time called it mild, this is his quote, “mild torture,” is what he called it.

HH: All right, I’ll go look at the Wikipedia entry.

LO’D: So…but Hugh, let’s go back to what Liz said, what Liz Cheney said. Liz Cheney said I guess what, and I guess this is maybe what you’re trying to say, is when I said that we’ve prosecuted people for it, which according to this we have, she said we didn’t prosecute them just for that, meaning her response was well, we’ve prosecuted people who did waterboarding and other things.

HH: No, we’ve prosecuted for torture and prisoner of war conditions in Japan, vis-?-vis Japanese prisoners of war, but it was not exclusively waterboarding, and it’s usually mischaracterized by the left.

LO’D: Okay, but…so and you’re going to go do your own research on the Spanish-American War and reach your verdict on that. But…so your position with Liz is yeah, they waterboarded, that was one of the counts in the prosecution…

HH: Actually, Larry, my position is you were talking out of your rear end.

LO’D: No, look, it turns out I’m right.

HH: It turns out you went to Wikipedia and found a reference. You have no idea what that means.

LO’D: No, but look. A lot of people have said it, I’ve written it.

HH: Sure, a lot of people on the left say all sorts of things.

LO’D: Wait, wait, wait. I know they do.

HH: “A lot of people” say we didn’t go to the Moon.

LO’D: I know, that’s why I said to you, that’s why I said to you at the beginning, I cannot cite anything for you. I’m going to go look it up. Now if I didn’t find anything in the time you gave me, this would have been much more fun for both of us.

HH: Larry, I’m kind of out there. When I go on television and I say something, I think you should have a specific example at your fingertips.

LO’D: Well wait, well now I do.

HH: Well yeah, but when you were on MSNBC, you didn’t, and you still don’t know if this is true.

LO’D: But I was right. I was right.

HH: No, you’re not right, because we don’t know what that waterboarding was, or if that was only for waterboarding. You’re going on a Wikipedia citation.

LO’D: Oh, yeah, that’s awful.

HH: Yeah, it is, actually.

LO’D: Right.

HH: Let me go back. I want to go back to another exchange you had with Chris Matthews.

LO’D: Okay.

HH: You were upset that the Vice President claimed they dismantled the A.Q. Khan network. Did they dismantle the A.Q. Khan network?

LO’D: I don’t think that they can be given specific credit on fully dismantling the A.Q. Khan network. I think it’s a much more complex thing than that, that what happened. But you know, they were in power, it’s one of those things where they’re in power at the time that it happens, okay. My problem with them on A.Q. Khan is what did this administration, and specifically Dick Cheney, who says to America, my claim, my claim on my job performance, is that I kept America safe, except he didn’t, except they completely…

HH: Larry, you’re dodging here. I want to talk about A.Q. Khan. Have you…

LO’D: No, what I’m saying, and Hugh, my position is very simple. What did Dick Cheney do about A.Q. Kahn from the day he was sworn in until September 10th?

HH: And did you…

LO’D: What did he do? And the answer is nothing.

HH: Did you read The Nuclear Jihadist by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins?

LO’D: No.

HH: He’s John Kerry’s senior investigator on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Sound pretty reputable to you?

LO’D: Keep going.

HH: The A.Q. Khan network is gone, dismantled.

LO’D: I know they’re gone, and I know, and that’s a great thing. But let’s just get a couple of things straight. Cheney did nothing about it, not one meeting, from the day he was sworn in until September 10th. He did nothing about al Qaeda, nothing about the A.Q. Khan network, nothing.

HH: In the eight years of…

LO’D: The guy wants you to rate his job starting on September 12th. Do you want to start rating the Obama presidency on September 12th of 2009? Do you want to do it that way?

HH: Larry, that’s a specious argument, but I want to get one more piece of data out there. Have you read The Looming Tower yet?

LO’D: No.

HH: What was the last book you read about terrorism?

LO’D: The last…I don’t think I’ve read a book about terrorism.

HH: Ever?

LO’D: No.

HH: About al Qaeda?

LO’D: No.

HH: About…how about the mullahs in Iran?

LO’D: No.

HH: I’m just stunned.

LO’D: Well, I’ll tell you, I’ve read Bob Woodward’s books about the accounts inside the Bush administration from what they were doing from the day they got sworn in, okay?

HH: You’ve never read a book about terrorism?

LO’D: There is no, there is absolutely no evidence, and I defy you today, Hugh,

HH: Larry, you’ve never read a book about terrorism?

LO’D: I defy you to point to me, point to me a citation of one memo or one meeting that Dick Cheney was in where he says anything about al Qaeda.

HH: Larry, I’ve got to go lie down. I really do. Do you think you’re a well-informed MSNBC, by MSNBC standards, do you think you’re above the grade of people on that network?

LO’D: That’s a trick question, Hugh.

HH: You got me on that one. Larry O’Donnell, always a pleasure.

End of interview.

From “Bear In The Woods”

Thursday, May 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The latest missive from our favorite anonymous ad exec:

From: bearinthewoods84@gmail.com

In the past three weeks, a couple of things have combined to keep me from sitting down and composing something for this space: First, the economy has all ad agencies scrambling to do more with less. Mine is no exception, and the fact that we’re able to do more, even with less, is a good problem to have these days. I had to take advantage of the three-day weekend just to get this piece out to you. The other thing that’s happened is, well — everything. At least it seems that way, on the political front. As soon as we begin to discuss one particular errant policy of the Obama Administration, or a reckless move by the Dems, or, lately, a victory for our side, the subject quickly changes to something else worth fighting for. And that situation is exactly what I want to write about today.[# More #]

Just look at the issues and happenings of the last few weeks: Torture vs. enhanced interrogation, did it work?, do they care?, what did Pelosi know?, what did Pelosi say this time?, the unleashing of Cheney, Gitmo vs. Supermax, cap and trade, Obamacare, single payer, the budget, the performance tax, the California tax revolt, the California bailout?, DC owns GM, beer tax, soda tax, Michael Steele and infighting, more Tea Parties brewing, are they coming after semi-autos and detachable mags?, an activist supreme court nomination and a Carter-esqe stance on North Korean nukes….whew. And I just touched on part of the stuff. It’s like October and sports. Football, basketball, hockey, baseball, auto racing — there’s so much going on, you simply can’t keep up with it all.

Which is exactly what the Administration is hoping. Remember HOPE? Their greatest hope seems to be to divide, confuse, diffuse, and ultimately, conquer. And recent success stories notwithstanding, if we on the right don’t recognize the strategy, and address it for what it is and how it’s designed, we play directly into it.

There has been a small but growing amount of discussion — notably, from Hannity — about Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, and how it has influenced Obama’s political philosophies and career. From my perspective, Sean couldn’t be more right. Reading “Rules” is like reading their playbook. Rule 8: Keep the pressure on.

Of course one of the best ways to pressure an opponent in any strategic operation is to metaphorically, at least, start a lot of small fires, rather than one big one. This divides the opponent’s resources, and splits his focus into many directions. A single day’s viewing of evening and prime-time news and commentary, or a single afternoon reading intelligent discussion of many of the policy moves that are coming out of DC these days, makes it clear that the agenda is, in fact, multi-targeted, yet with a single goal: consolidation of power. And it only helps when fires start themselves (see: N. Korea, Iran). Never let a good crisis go to waste. Or something like that.

Now, all of this may seem obvious to a well-versed political observer — even an amateur one like me. But the other obvious thing that most well-versed political observers, professional and amateur alike, almost always miss — is the fact that most people aren’t well-versed political observers. They just don’t pay close enough attention. Not because they’re stupid. They’re not. But because they’re people, and they simply have other stuff to do.

What people pay attention to is twofold: Specific things that benefit them; and broad concepts that connect emotionally. Hence, a union auto-worker votes for HOPE and CHANGE, because that sounds like a positive direction to take the country. He’s very happy with an auto bailout, because he benefits directly. HOPE and CHANGE contains a lot of other stuff beyond an auto bailout, but that stuff doesn’t feel as immediate or personal because it affects somebody else. Yet it comes in the package. He’s just not thinking about that.

The broad emotional connection is all about the positioning of the brand, and the ability of that positioning to encompass all the smaller, tactical elements that collectively make up the brand. Here’s a fun example from toy marketing:

One of the reasons Barbie has been so successful for so long is the toy’s ability to emulate any trend, any fad, or just about anything any other doll manufacturer could dream up as a specific feature in a new doll. Make a doll that does (A), and in a few months, Barbie will do (A). And Barbie will win, because in addition to the specific feature, she delivers the overarching emotional connection that is the Barbie brand. The only serious challenge successfully mounted to Barbie has come from Bratz. Bratz follows the same chameleon-like formula, yet embraces a different over-arching brand personality that Barbie cannot or will not match. The point of difference is in the overall brand personality, not just in any one specific feature. Yet collectively, those specific features make up a brand personality for Bratz that is, at the same time, comparable to Barbie, yet radically different.

I’ve read recent conservative commentary that mocks the GOP’s re-branding, and calls instead for clear, strong stands on the issues. To me, it misses the point. It’s not an either/or situation. To win, you need both — substance on every tactical front, collectively expressed in a broad, emotionally-appealing brand mantra. HOPE and CHANGE worked, not because they were empty, but precisely the opposite — they were filled with meaning for any given individual who embraced them. The meaning they were filled with varied wildly from person to person, but each variation combined with all the others under the strong and emotionally appealing brand umbrella.

To successfully defend against the Administration’s Alinsky-inspired multi-faceted assault, the GOP must do more than simply meet each point with a firmly rooted, solidly-articulated counterpoint. That’s imperative, of course, but it’s only step one. Step two is an emotionally appealing umbrella — a mantra that speaks to a broad range of people, yet can embrace any and all of the individual positions that define the conservative message. In short, it’s easier to fight multiple battles if you’re fighting all of them under the same flag.

An appealing brand with substance to back it up is the toughest competitor there is. That’s the task the GOP has on its plate right now. The good news is, it’s not a chicken/egg scenario. Substance comes first. The bad news is, time is short. And new fires are popping up every day.

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