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The GOP and Message Discipline

Friday, January 14, 2011  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My column asks that the various arms of the Republican party practice message discipline over the next nine months.

We can dream, can’t we?

Modern politics doesn’t reward reticence, but for the next few months as the GOP makes the argument for vast cuts in the size and scope of the federal government, the left and the MSM –yes, I know, that is somewhat redundant– will be eager to take the argument anywhere but on to the question of what all that money is going to and whether all that spending produces anything remotely close to a good return on investment.

Some among the GOP are particularly skilled at making the case for the cuts, and the rest of the party should be willing to yield the floor to them for the time being. The would-be GOP nominees won’t vanish from the public platforms, but they should be supporting the House GOP agenda at every turn as should the Republican governors. If senior Republican office holders are willing to play a supporting role in the budget battle about to unfold, so too should the rank-and-file in the House.

The Democrats are in desperate political shape, with November’s vast rejection of their policies just now sinking in. The flurry of activity in the lame duck Congress masked the eclipse of the president’s ability to take the initiative on legislation, and while the GOP will wait for Team Obama’s budget to arrive and the State of the Union to be given before putting their budget plan at the center of the national debate, it is that plan that matters more than any other domestic initiative in 2011. When it appears all of the elected GOP should study it and step up in its defense.

The decision to ask Governor Chris Christie to keynote the House GOP’s annual gala is perfect when it comes to the messaging, and a good sign that Speaker Boehner, NRCC Chair Pete Sessions and the rest of the GOP leadership team all understand that 2011 is the year of debate over spending, while next year will be about presidential politics. President Obama can raise and spend a billion dollars in his re-election effort, but if the GOP stays on its message of the dismal stewardship the president has exercised over the federal budget and Team Obama’s massive power grab through Obamacare and the EPA, the president could raise and spend far more than a billion, indeed as much as his wasted “stimulus” and still not change the contours of the debate or the shape of his record.

The 2012 cake is largely baked and the issues on the domestic side are fixed. The GOP doesn’t need grandstanding or elaborate media strategies. It just has to stay committed to what it campaigned on and for.


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