October 13 2013
Note to Speaker Boehner: Quit Talking about the CR
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Politics occasionally drive John Boehner to tears, but rarely to plain English.
Wesley Pruden, Editor Emeritus of the Washington Times
We are in a national crisis—a potential turning point in our nation’s history—and Speaker Boehner takes to the mics to discuss … the CR. He is also wont to speak on OMB projections. Meanwhile, the president and his spokesmen call the GOP anarchists and terrorists. They do not respond.
Pruden is echoing a theme sounded last week by Thomas Sowell in a column on “Inarticulate Republicans.” In a time like no other in American history, the GOP simply won’t—or can’t—tell people what is at stake. The fight isn’t over the CR or even default. It’s over something much bigger. More is at stake than the tongue-tied Republicans are letting on. Sowell wrote:
If the continued existence of mathematics depended on the ability of the Republicans to defend the proposition that two plus two equals four, it would probably mean the end of mathematics and of all the things that require mathematics….
Democrats, by contrast, are all talk. They could sell refrigerators to Eskimos before Republicans could sell them blankets. Indeed, Democrats sold Barack Obama to the American public, which is an even more amazing feat, considering his complete lack of relevant experience and questionable (at best) loyalty to the values and institutions of this country.
Whatever you think about Senator Ted Cruz (and I nearly came to email fisticuffs over Cruz with my very dear Texas tea party cousin who loves the Lone Star talker to pieces), he has set an element of the conservative side on fire. Cruz crushed the other presidential possibilities over the weekend in the Values Voters summit straw poll. Cruz won 42 percent of the votes cast, while Dr. Ben Carson and Rick Santorum each won a paltry 13 percent.
Why is Cruz so popular with Values Voters? I for one am certainly not sold on the senator’s tactics. But I do believe that he captured the imagination of the Values Voters because, at long last, somebody stood up and said things they longed to hear. Cruz didn’t talk about the CR or OMB projections but about bigger and more important aspects of the ObamaCare debate. He placed ObamaCare in the context of American values and American history.
Pruden, who could be funny at a funeral, realizes that the GOP faces challenges in getting their points across, even if it can learn to speak:
Facts, the wise man said, can’t speak for themselves and depend on someone else to distort them. In the current crisis, President Obama and the Democrats have the media at their back, as they nearly always do. The Associated Press reported this week that its national poll finds that Mr. Obama’s approval rating has fallen deeper into Jimmy Carter country, with only 37 percent of Americans say he’s doing OK. The Associated Press, once the gold standard for neutrality and reliability, reported this under the headline: “Poll: GOP Gets the Blame in Shutdown.” The prevalence of such bait-and-switch journalism is why the Republican leaders must do more than rant, rave and scold. If they hope to succeed, they must agree on a clear and easily understood goal — and learn how to talk about it.
The Democrats have engaged in rhetoric that could take the paint off the side of the barn (as we say in Pruden's and my neck of the woods). Sometimes an understandably frustrated John Boehner, who must be having one of the least fun tenures as Speaker in American history, lashes out—peevishly but not convincingly, inspiringly or stirringly. He said, for example, that the president wants to “annihilate” the GOP. This appears to be the case, but Boehner sounded defeated and miserable. I wonder if it would be too much to tell us that what makes this debt ceiling matter particularly perilous is that for the first time in American history, we have a president who might be perfectly willing to default to get his way—and who might even be willing to make the default as painful as possible?
Could Speaker Boehner maybe have coffee with Peggy Noonan, who wrote some of Ronald Reagan’s great speeches, and talk about how to—well—talk?