The PJ Tatler

Here's What I Want to Know. Who Leaked This GOP Strategy Call to the Media?

Pretty stupid move, whoever did it.

Republicans on a private Republican National Committee conference call with allies warned Tuesday that party surrogates should refrain from personal attacks against President Barack Obama, because such a strategy is too hazardous for the GOP.

“We’re hesitant to jump on board with heavy attacks” personally against President Obama, Nicholas Thompson, the vice president of polling firm the Tarrance Group, said on the call. “There’s a lot of people who feel sorry for him.”

Recent polling data indicates that while the president suffers from significantly low job approval ratings, voters still give “high approval” to Obama personally, Thompson said.

Voters “don’t think he’s an evil man who’s out to change the United States” for the worse–even though many of the same survey respondents agree that his policies have harmed the country, Thompson said. The upshot, Thompson stressed, is that Republicans should “exercise some caution” when talking about the president personally.

It depends on what one means by “personally,” of course. I do happen to think that Obama has some destructive ideas that he’s trying to foist on an unsuspecting country, but that’s because I watch much of what he does daily and listen to what he says. He’s the most ideologically driven president I’ve seen. Most people see him as an image on their TV, and he’s just a guy in over his head in a bad situation. So yeah, they don’t see him as malevolent and don’t consider that he campaigned on a pack of lies in 2008. He just seems so nice, as long as you’re not a bitter clinger, a stupid cop or a Wall Street fat cat.

But there’s plenty of policy that has much to do with his personality, that’s worth attacking. You’re out of work while he’s flitting around the world on expensive vacations and playing lots of golf on the taxpayer’s time. You’re paying more in taxes while he’s using the national treasury to take over whole industries and pay off his cronies. He talks a good game but doesn’t know what he’s doing on the economy (malevolent interpretation: He talks a good game and knows exactly what he’s doing on the economy). His cluelessness on foreign policy has led to the swift Islamist takeover of the Middle East. Not that American elections turn on questions of foreign policy, unfortunately. His policy failures combined with some of his personal attributes present a target-rich environment.

And, the president’s personal high favorable is worth knocking down a bit, no? It’ll make him easier to beat. The question is, how do you do that without hurting yourself?

But all of that’s beside the real point, which is, who let media onto that call? The story says they got in by “mistake.” Sure they did.

You can see at the bottom of the article, that one of the principals on the call followed up to clarify things because the reporter “missed the point” of it. The reporter didn’t miss the point, they spun it. That’s what they do.

Whoever let them into that sensitive call needs a talking-to, and maybe fired.

Having said all of that, I’ll offer a bit of caution against reading too much into the story or coming away from it completely disheartened that the GOP will go toothless next year. It’s one call, on which one consultancy offered their advice to the RNC. When you’re inside a political party, you end up on lots of these strategy calls with all sorts of people. Some of advice you hear is obviously better and worse than some of the other advice you hear. The trick is to have people who can sort the good from the bad and make sound decisions. So far, as chairman Reince Preibus has been mostly good. We’ve had too many debates, and some of the responsibility for that has to be placed on his desk, but otherwise he has done well. I wouldn’t lose faith in him over this one Yahoo news report.