GOP Turns To Bush Aides For Advice?

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Bush, Republicans

Sure, Bush & Company knew how to win, but look at the costs to the GOP as a whole. That’s why I seriously question if the following is really a smart strategy.

From Politico:

Republicans looking to recover from Bush-era defeats are turning to an unlikely source for advice: top aides to former President George W. Bush.

Former White House press secretary Dana Perino, former Bush counselor Ed Gillespie and former White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto are among those set to provide words of wisdom to House Republican press secretaries at their annual workshop this Friday.

GOP House Conference Communications Director Matt Lloyd said Perino, Gillespie and Fratto represented “the gold standard for Republican communications professionals” and were obvious choices to advise the party’s messengers.

What this points to is the GOP will once again be launching a Contract With America style war of words with the Dems, where they’ll be slavishly on-message day in and day out. The only problem…no new ideas to back up their criticisms. At least not yet.

More as it develops.


This entry was posted on Monday, May 4th, 2009 and is filed under Bush, Republicans. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

16 Responses to “GOP Turns To Bush Aides For Advice?”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Cuban Missile Crisis Perino is the Gold Standard? And Miss South Carolina is a geographer and cartographer..

  2. dumbwhore Says:

    This is complete insanity. All of their fuck ups are the reason why Obama got elected. Now to go back for a second taste of the electric kool-aid is sheer stupidity. No wonder I saw Palin on American Chopper the other day. They really think they can make it with the same old rhetoric and the same meat puppets. Nimrods.

  3. Simon Says:

    I remain mystified by the notion that what we need is new ideas, as if the old ideas were somehow flawed. Many of the old ideas were simply never implemented – term limits, for example. Others were incompletely or incompetently implemented, or implemented at the same time as bad ideas that undermined and offset the good ideas (the Bush tax cuts were coupled with a huge new dollop of entitlement spending, for example).

    Come to think of it, where was this demand for new ideas when the incumbent President was running on a platform of reheated Great Society liberalism? I fancy that the demand for new ideas is really a demand by critics to drop ideas they don’t like.

    Lastly, is it really surprising that after eight years of an at least nominally Republican administration, many prominent GOP consultants have spent time in that administration? Hardly. And given that none of the people mentioned were in policy-setting roles – they were implementers – it seems unfortunate to look at the administration’s policies (including its communications and electoral policies) and say that people who worked in that administration have nothing of value to contribute?

  4. kranky kritter Says:

    If you really want to leave no stone unturned when to comes to useful insight, you talk to ALL the people with experience and intelligence. The fact that the GOP is talking to Bush admin members demonstrates that they are smart enough to know that many of these folks have useful insights, even though they are in disrepute.

    And if you believe that people learn the most from their mistakes, and think that the Bush admin made lots of mistakes, then you MUST concede the value of consulting former bush admin folks. Right?

    I agree in part with Simon. The GOP doesn’t need too many new ideas. And let’s face it, It’s not like the democrats are actually flush with them. Rather, they simply have the power and opportunity to implement ones that are not new at all.

    What the GOP does sorely need though, is to reframe their core principles in a way that resonates with current times. That has more to do with changes in emphasis than changes in policy. For example Mitt Romney is on the right track when he frames conservative principle as not reflexively opposed to regulation but rather concerned with carefully constructing it so that it is does not [to summarize] bring about as much strangulation as protection. If the GOP patiently sticks to that, it will resonate, because many people GET that.

    If instead you frame your attitude to gov’t regulation as being generally opposed to it in principle, I think you can cue the crickets these days.

  5. gerryf Says:

    Simon, I understand what you are saying, but you are once again trying to redefine what conservatism has become.

    To most people, the conservative ideas and values are those of Bush II–Even Bush I and Reagan deviated from the classic Barry Goldwater conservatiism model. I recall that Barry Goldwater was disgusted with the Republican Party during the 80s when Reagan was still in office–I can only imagine the outrage he would have felt at Bush II.

    But then you have to ask yourself–is even Barry Goldwater conservatism relevant today? Goldwater rejected the legacy of the New Deal, and was appalled at the size of government in general, but his anti-labor stance and war against the welfare state doesn’t hold up as well given the state of unions and shrinking of welfare.

    Goldwater laid the ground work for Reagan and what was to come after him, but none of that could happen today in a country where people are scared of losing thier jobs and homes.

    Reagan captured the middle class only because labor, regulation and the New Deal allowed the middle class to grow large and comfortable–a shrinking and nervous middle class will hardly flock to “conservative” values and ideas.

    Once they began to accumulate power, the conservatives courted the Conservative Right, and that put them over the top, but some of those same conservative ideas that began under Goldwater have proven to be the fiscal ruin of the country, and gradually the middle class has shrunk and become less comfortable.

    Now, all the “conservatives” have left is the Christian Right with their social issues–and the middle has abandoned it.

    You can look back fondly on all those old style conservative ideas, but the fiscally conservative actually has a better chance of influencing the Democrats than the hopelessly strident GOP, who don’t care about those issues you care about.

  6. TerenceC Says:

    Doesn’t anyone realize what’s happening? They aren’t doing anything except to change the delivery of a reframed message. Nothing earth shattering here, it’s just the “meat puppets” that have been doing the talking these past few months have done a terrible job, and are so negatively over-overexposed their elected seats are in danger.

    The “R”‘s need somewhat well known and not elected people to keep what little of their message that has survived alive. They can try the re-treaded “Contract for America” – but they failed miserably then and it would fail again. Does anyone think a re-discussion of “Contract for America” wouldn’t be good for the GOP? It would be a disaster.

    A snippet of current demographics has 25% of the population18 -34, and in excess of 40% of the total population as minority – these are the groups that run from the “R”‘s, and these are the groups that put most of the Democratic power structure in place. And these are the groups that will keep them there for quite some time.

    It isn’t new ideas the “R”‘s need as much as it’s just new thinking – the same old people talking about the same old things does not work. The voting demographic has drastically changed in the last 10 years and the “R”‘s simply missed the boat as they used wedge politics to stay in power. The next boat isn’t coming for quite some time, so unless huge fundamental changes are made the “R”‘s will miss that one too. What goes around comes around – now it’s their turn on the outs.

  7. ExiledIndependent Says:

    Terence, you say that like it’s a bad thing. Obama did the whole reframing two step with wonderful panache and appeal, going so far as to make most voters forget that his ideas have been around for the greater part of 50 years. Heck, it sounds like he might have even made *you* forget about that….

  8. gerryf Says:

    The GOP has only one issue that it can cling to: fiscal conserativism.

    I don’t know how the Republicans have managed to hold onto this given their track record for 30 years, but some people (particularly those who call themselves “conservatives”) still have this idea the GOP is more fiscally responsible.

    I honestly think it is the best PR job in history.

    In this regard, the Dems are playing into the GOPs hands. If I had been Obama, there would have been no earmarks this time around, and I would have been very careful that the stimulus bill was sold as a temporary necessity, but that as soon as the economy gets rolling cutting the debt and putting the fiscal house in order would be priority number one.

    This would have resulted in the far left screaming, but it would have crushed what little was left of the GOP. Then, four years down the road I would begin implementing the social programs that Obama is already laying the groundwork for.

    Yes, it would have been a gamble that Obama’s New Great Society would not happen. He saw an opportunity to use the political capital he won in the election and jumped on it.

    I happen to be one of those who think he’s reaching too far and using the current crisis to set up what he wants for later, but I think that could result in a one term presidency.

    Too many Dems are counting the GOP out when it is simply staggering. I have little doubt that the McConnels and Boehners of the GOP will have to be swept away before the GOP can rise again, but I think Mitt Romney has the right idea by trying to reframe the party, but it baffles me he lets cancers like Cantor and Jeb Bush anywhere near him (Cantor because he is a Boehner wannabe and Bush because–well he is a Bush (nevermind he is the smarter one).

  9. TerenceC Says:

    Not at all. Good. Bad. It simply is what it is. I find it laughable that the “R”s trot out the same old group (although they have been under wraps for a few months) to paint the same old message only now with a different color.

    I subscribe to the belief that you’re either in or you’re out. If you’re out then I call you one of the voters. If you’re in then I call you a politician. Politicians spend most of their time arguing with other politicians trying to get some level of political advantage. Right now the advantage is clearly with the “D”s – and the “R”s are trying to get their advantage back. There just isn’t much difference between either party though – they’re the “ins” and they take advantage of us – the “outs”.

  10. kranky kritter Says:

    If I had been Obama, there would have been no earmarks this time around, and I would have been very careful that the stimulus bill was sold as a temporary necessity, but that as soon as the economy gets rolling cutting the debt and putting the fiscal house in order would be priority number one.

    ROTFLM…m-f!….AO.

    Sounds swell Gerry. But then you wouldn’t BE Obama or any representative democrat. For decades and decades, Democrats have proven themselves congenitally unable to avoid considering raising taxes to pay for big government programs. At least collectively speaking. Give them the White House and the congress and they add expensive new programs and probably raise taxes to pay for them.

    While the GOP was in charge, they added a few big expensive programs, like the new prescription drug law. And mostly avoided tax hikes except for Bush 1, which was sane, let’s face it. That all didn’t work out that well. Cheerfully granted. You could even argue that certain things decayed badly under the GOP watch and I would not argue.

    But the problem for your clever idea here is that there is just simply no effing way in the world that it could have happened. You don’t have to look any farther that the first stimulus bill under Obama. Which, let’s face it, was 4/5 of a trillion bucks worth of bill chock full to the brim with pet congressional crap.

    You could even argue that the stimulus was necessary and I wouldn’t argue here. Because that doesn’t even dent my point that democrats have simply never ever ever in my lifetime shown any sort of genuine collective commitment to making the government spend within its means.

    The budget balance circa 1994 is looking more and more like an historical aberration brought about by the confluence of a new and still ideologically committed GOP congressional majority and an opportunistic and pragmatic democratic President. I could care less who gets the credit for that balance, but no one sane can deny that it was just NEVER ever the democrats’ idea.

  11. Simon Says:

    gerryf Says:

    Simon, I understand what you are saying, but you are once again trying to redefine what conservatism has become. ¶ To most people, the conservative ideas and values are those of Bush II

    Well, you’re saying that I’m trying to redefine conservatism, but what I’m doing is rejecting your claim – one I think quite wrong – that Bush II represents conservative principles. If your point is simply that a lot of people believe, wrongly, that Bush II represents conservatism, that’s fine, and you’re probably right, but that point doesn’t support your claim that I am redefining the meaning of conservatism.

    But then you have to ask yourself–is even Barry Goldwater conservatism relevant today? Goldwater rejected the legacy of the New Deal, and was appalled at the size of government in general, but his anti-labor stance and war against the welfare state doesn’t hold up as well given the state of unions and shrinking of welfare.

    To the contrary, most of Goldwater’s prescriptions – those in Conscience of a Conservative, at least – are all the more urgent today. When Goldwater worried about the size of the federal sphere and federal spending, these things were far smaller than they are today. You simply cannot be serious in suggesting that welfare has shrunk since 1964.

    There were some things Goldwater got wrong – I take in good faith his claim to have opposed the Civil Rights Act on Constitutional grounds, but I respectfully disagree with his conclusion that it was in all cases infirm on that basis (Heart of Atlanta Motel was correctly decided; McClung is a far different and more difficult case) – but what is shocking is how much he got right. The famous passage from his introduction seems quite apropos:

    Conservatism, we are told, is out of date. The charge is preposterous and we ought boldly to say so. The laws of God, and of nature, have no dateline. The principles on which the Conservative political position is based have been established by a process that has nothing to do with social, economic, and political landscape that changes from decade to decade and from century to century. These principles are derived from the nature of man, and from the truths that God has revealed about His creation. Circumstances do change. So do the problems that are shaped by circumstances. But the principles that govern the solution of the problems do not. To suggest that the Conservative philosophy is out of date is akin to saying that the Golden Rule, or the Ten Commandments or Aristotle’s Politics are out of date. The Conservative approach is nothing more or less than an attempt to apply the wisdom and experience and the revealed truths of the past to the problems of today. The challenge is not to find new or different truths, but to learn how to apply established truths to the problems of the contemporary world.”

    That’s an almost jarringly modern paragraph; if one didn’t know whence it came, one could almost envision Gingrich penning it today. It was right then, and it remains so today.

    some of those same conservative ideas that began under Goldwater have proven to be the fiscal ruin of the country, and gradually the middle class has shrunk and become less comfortable.

    It was never a conservative policy – certainly not one advocated by Goldwater – to run up an exorbitant level of spending on welfare and so forth. Certainly, spending to meet and defeat an existential threat was permissible, such as Reagan’s campaign to bankrupt and bring down the Soviet Union, but Medicare Part D? NCLB? Iraq, which no matter how justified I might think it was and unjustified you may think it was, was unquestionably a war of choice? These were not conservative policies, period. The problem with the Bush administration, other than its basic incompetence, wasn’t that it was conservative, but that it was liberal in virtually every sense that mattered. Aside from stem cells, tax cuts, and marginal retrenchment on religion in public life, this was a moderate to liberal administration in every sense but homeland defense, and that’s why it failed.

    Now, all the “conservatives” have left is the Christian Right with their social issues–and the middle has abandoned it.

    We may as well put this claim out of its misery: clearly not, since I’m not a member of the Christian Right, and I’m not a social conservative, yet conservatism has me left. Certainly, mainline conservatism has lost ground in the party to the libertarians, the social conservatives, and the lunatic populist fringe. But we’re still here.

  12. Kevin Says:

    Simon mentioned the Goldwater quote which I found to be dangerous in the way Goldwater worried about later but he obviously had not made the connection here. The idea that God has set you up with the right answers is not only delusional but a very dangerous and divisive one. You then seemed to say that the Christian Right is not the base and yet when you look at the 20-26% that supported Bush at the end and the number against Obama now I think you’d see that number is over-represented by that group.

    That belief system is dangerous, even if they had the right opinions. They can not be reasoned with.

    You have also mentioned Newt a few times now and he is not a part of any future solution. He was the most divisive guy until Cheney and just about as popular. He is also seriously challenged from a moral hypocrite standpoint.
    Although that doesn’t seem to ever stick on the GOP. ahhh different standards for their own. Makes life so much simpler.

  13. gerryf Says:

    Simon,

    To answer your first question–yes, a lot of people believe…that Bush II represents conservatism. I will even agree with you that those people are wrong when they say he did when one considers classic conservatism.

    The problem is that you are outside the mainstream. You can sit their and write everyone else is wrong and you are right, but when 90 percent of people who call themselves conservative are Bushies, the perception becomes the reality.

    KK,

    Glad you got such a chuckle. I maintain that the mantle of fiscal conservancy was up for grabs for a very short time and the Dems blew it. I am, however, not going to hand it back to the GOP after 30 years of lies and abusive spending.

  14. Simon Says:

    Gerry, notice the reasoning gap in your comment above? We agree that lots of people believe that Bush represents conservatism. Then you say that when “90 percent of people who call themselves conservative are Bushies, the perception becomes the reality.” Your assumption is that the “lots of people” referred to are people who call themselves conservatives, and that is where you’re going wrong.

    True enough, among the public at large, a grouping which includes liberals and independents (many of whom are, of course, IINOs, and haven’t voted for a GOP candidate since Ford), many equate Bush with conservatism. That’s been shown by polling, and I have no reason to doubt it. But very few people – certainly nowhere near 90% – who call themselves conservatives believe that Bush’s administration represented conservatism. I just don’t know where you’re getting this number from if it’s anything but an unexamined assumption.

    Kevin, you’ve made it very clear that you’re an atheist bigot, and I really see no point in debating the issue with you.

  15. Kevin Says:

    Simon

    Convenient. And since I feel your conclusions are flawed, I’ll follow the same approach.

  16. Trescml Says:

    In the end for Republicans to become for relevant (or for the Dems to stay that way) you have to have a message that appeals to the American public and present it in a way that the public will take.

    I think that there will need to be a combination of tweaking the message and improving the messenger. For example jumping up and down about how taking away offshore tax havens is an un-American tax increase isn’t a message that the average American wants to hear right now. It is equally true that even if the message is a good one (fiscal responsibility) the majority won’t listen if the messenger is someone they don’t trust.

    Over time the better messengers will rise to the top, but the bigger question is if the message will resonate.

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