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Shutdown Day 3: The Hearts And Minds Battle

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I am used to the Indians losing.  Shake it off.  Focus on the Browns beating the Bills.  The Indians weren’t supposed to be close to the playoffs this year, so it was a great improvement.  The big year is next year, for all five of the franchises I care about –the Tribe, Browns, Cavs, Buckeyes and Irish.

2014 is also supposed to be a big year for the GOP, and that depends –very much– on he next three weeks.  The GOP has done a very good thing refusing to be bullied by the arrogant president or the hapless Senate Majority Leader (who, after all, doesn’t even care about kids with cancer getting their NIH trials.)

But the country is stuck.  Hope that the GOP is stuck on smart and the Democrats occupy General Honore ground –stuck on stupid.  In truth, they appear to be there, but there are troubling signs it may be spreading.

Cruz-envy seems pretty deep in the GOP Senate caucus and among some slices of the conservative commentariat.  That’s because the Texas senator has made a powerful impression on the country, and most of that impression is good, and for the GOP base, nearly all of that impression is wonderful.  There are seven GOP senators to really care about right now: Leader and Whip McConnell and Cornyn, and maybe-nominees Cruz, Paul, Rubio and Thune, plus the straight-shooting Mike Lee.  These are people I would book any day during the shutdown.

In the House the list of interesting guests is shorter: The Speaker, Leader Cantor, Whip McCarthy, Budget Chair Ryan, Ways and Means Chair Camp –and of course our pal John Campbell, who is our go-to guy because he is smart and great on the radio.  (Memo to Fox Business –when he retires at the end of 2014, you ought to give this savvy businessman-turend Congressman a show.)

Cruz of course came on the show Wednesday, and John Campbell is available most nights, but the key House voices won’t return calls and won’t come on air to tell the American people what they are doing.  When the Speaker emerged from the White House last night, he gave about a thirty second statement and vanished again.

This is a huge problem for the GOP, and will always be a problem until they realize that the message is constantly being formed and if they don’t pull on their end of the rope, they lose the tug of war.

Witness this New York Times piece (h/t Article 6 Blog).  It blames the GOP for the unfolding failure of Obamacare to actually insure the poor.  The article is like a playbook for the less-than-brilliant House members who have been parading to and embarrassing themselves in front of the microphones these past few days.  “That’s the ticket,” Jon Lovitz, the man who must be advising the House Democratic Caucus must be saying this morning.  Expect the left’s message machine to start even as early as today to explain the massive fail of Obamacare as the GOP’s fault.

This can only be countered by good arguments, well structured and well-delivered –while the country is watching.  Which. Is. Right. Now.

Ditto the Debt Ceiling debate.  Which. Is. Underway. Now.

Advertisers would kill for the opportunity to sell into a focused audience, but the House GOP is largely walking past the audience.  Not so Ted Cruz, which is why his star has risen and why jealousy of him is soaring.

Here’s a bit of radio stuff: I am sending my producer a note to please invite all 12 of these guests (and of course Campbell).  Listen today to see if any of them accept.  (Cruz was on Tuesday so it may be unfair to expect a return visit in 48 hours when half the world is trying to book him.)  But the folks who are interested in winning the argument don’t walk past audience.

Some will say –and with some wisdom– that the Democrats are doing such a horrible job of messaging that we should leave them the field to score points on themselves, and that might be true in other circumstances.  But no doubt Harry Reid will be bound and gagged by today, and the president back in his safe place, both of them and more newly aware that they are horrible at making the case and leave it to the MSM.

Watch and see.  And somebody put a bodyguard on Dana Bash.  The left really, really hates it when you ask hard but obvious questions of their empty-headed leadership cadre.



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