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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 06:21 AM Thread Starter
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Apparently the "incompetent perverts" thing isn't working

Republicans can't agree on new image

By: Patrick O'Connor
The Politico
Nov 7, 2007 06:02 AM EST

An effort by House Republicans to “re-brand” their battered party with a new agenda and a new strategy to sell it has fallen behind schedule as GOP leaders try to referee ideological and tactical disputes among their members.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) began the project to refurbish House Republicans’ scuffed public image at the start of the year, amid widespread expectations among lawmakers that the results would be ready for public rollout this fall.

As it now stands, according to members and well-connected staff aides, the debut could happen as late as next spring, after the presidential primaries.

Boehner’s idea had been that the GOP could lift itself off the mat by borrowing from private-sector marketing concepts. Among those who have consulted in the effort were corporate brand experts such as Richard Costello, the man behind GE’s famous “We Bring Good Things to Life” campaign.

But modern business techniques have stalled amid old-fashioned political disputes. Lawmakers who think the party needs to embrace a more moderate image on issues like health care and the environment are at odd with conservatives, who believe the way back to victory is to reclaim the GOP’s traditional reputation for taking a hard line on spending.

Some of the divisions are about the language and style of the GOP’s public positioning. A survey polling House GOP members found many eager to “fight” and “attack” Democratic initiatives, while others favored a more accommodationist public image.

Part of the split is generational. During a retreat last winter, Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey polled his GOP colleagues about what direction they favored for the party.

Seventy-eight percent of the members who have served one or two terms favored a conservative agenda.

That number dropped 20 percentage points for lawmakers who had served three to five terms.

And, of the Republicans who have been in the House more than 12 years, 47 percent favored conservative politics, compared with the 26 percent who preferred a more moderate agenda.

“Most of the younger members campaigned on a conservative platform, so they’re excited about trying to implement that,” Garrett said.

The re-branding effort flows from conversations Boehner was leading about how to refashion the GOP’s image that began even before Republicans were bounced from their congressional majorities a year ago this week.

At a retreat not long after that humiliation, former Rep. Tom DeLay — whose legal and political problems helped contribute to the defeat — challenged his old colleagues to unveil a new agenda that the party could use to fight Democrats on more favorable political terrain.

But the obstacles Boehner is facing in the re-branding effort are a reflection of his broader challenges trying to revive a divided and demoralized party.

Some conservative members are complaining that too many Republicans voted for the expansion of a popular state-run children’s health care initiative that the president and party leaders opposed.

And some GOP lawmakers argue that time is running short to come up with a coherent, partywide issue strategy to take into the 2008 elections.

“We have an opening, but it’s going to close in February,” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who unveiled a conservative agenda last week with the help of some GOP colleagues in the House and Senate.

Boehner tasked Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam of Florida with the communications efforts and Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter of Michigan with developing the actual policy behind this drive.

In borrowing from corporate image-building methods, the goal is for individual lawmakers to present themselves as the personification of the party, just as employees at IBM or Google are encouraged to present themselves as public ambassadors for the companies where they work.

But first, lawmakers must settle on just what the GOP brand is supposed to be.

Conservatives have been the vanguard for the GOP since Newt Gingrich and his band of Republican rebels — including Boehner — stormed to power in 1994. Conservatives now dominate the party on both a congressional and presidential level.

Moderates, meanwhile, say that one benefit of reduced power is greater freedom — now that leaders no longer have the leverage to force them to take unpopular votes. But many say they remain concerned about the direction of the party, even though their numbers diminished in the last election.

“The bottom line is that if Republicans are going to be in the majority, you need moderate members,” said Rep. Mike Castle (Del.).

“I can’t win my election with just Republican votes,” said Rep. Jim Gerlach (Pa.).

That dynamic has prompted the third-term lawmaker to embrace issues that play with voters on both sides of the aisle, such as the environment, health care and a balanced budget.

Minority status, he said, allows him to position himself as an outsider rather than have to defend the party in charge.

“We’re all running as challengers in our districts,” Gerlach said. “That gives us a little more of an advantage to run against the institution.”

McCotter, who helms the Republican Policy Committee, led the efforts to address each policy issue that would make up the GOP’s new brand.

Sitting in his office on the sixth floor of the Longworth House Office Building, surrounded by glass-enclosed bookcases jampacked with titles, the Michigan Republican referred to the branding project as “an independent work study.”

“I’m like the college professor who can assign you homework but can’t force you to turn it in,” he said. “But they’re turning it in anyways.”

His team is in the process of melding those results with Putnam’s branding team. Leadership staff walked rank-and-file chiefs of staff through the process during a retreat late last week on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

But leaders have decided to postpone their rollout until next year, in part because of disagreements and in part because the calendar is already too cluttered for the balance of this, senior aides said. Aides expect to complete their work by the member retreat next January.

Whatever the stumbles for his own team, McCotter argued, there is still more unity in GOP ranks than among Democrats.

The GOP, after all, has plenty of small issues over which lawmakers and their grass-roots supporters are divided, such as the stem cell debate, but party loyalists tend to rally around bigger issues, such as lower taxes and strong national security.

“I can get Mike Castle and [conservative] Mike Pence in a room and come up with something that both of them will agree on,” McCotter said, adding that it is often impossible to bridge the divides on the Democratic side between liberals and moderates. “How do you get Sheila Jackson Lee [D-Texas] and Collin Peterson [D-Minn.] in a room and come up with something they can agree on?”

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 07:17 AM
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Oooh oooh! I have an idea!

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 08:05 AM
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It's a shame Ken Kesey died as he would be the perfect person to frame the New Republicans NeoNeoConCon?

Larry Craig could be Nurse Ratched but the solution falls apart as there is no one to fill the Randall Patrick McMurphy [nicholson] character as he had both brains and balls.


Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 08:10 AM
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NewNewConfusedConvictedContriteConservatives...the re we go

2N4C: Spending your kids Future since 1980 [oh, and don't forget 9/11]


Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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