BY KENNY BELFORD
The last election has Republicans scrambling to figure out what went wrong. Party leaders are showing up all over television to serve up their own theories. But every single one is wrong, and not even remotely close to the real reason Mitt Romney was trounced.
Curious about the real reason?
It’s George W. Bush, the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats.
When Bush first announced he was a candidate for president, Americans ignored his lackluster performance as governor of Texas, and long history of failures. They wanted a dude they’d like to have a beer with as president, and Bush seemed likable at first.
It didn’t take long to figure out Bush was a wader that had been shoved in the deep end.
As blunder after blunder stacked up en route to his establishment as the worst president in America’s history, Republican leadership made a tactical error. Instead of privately meeting with him to offer a propping up, they made the fateful decision to instead rationalize, justify and explain away all his gaffs and colossal failures. They continued that practice into his second term.
Midway through Bush’s second term it was time for the Republican Party to start the search process for a presidential candidate in 2008. By then it was the consensus view of America that Bush had been a disaster and the party was demoralized; all the mojo had flown away. They couldn’t field a crop of quality candidates, and one by one they simply eliminated those they liked the least.
In the end, they nominated a candidate as the last man standing, that they struggled to just tolerate. The fire was out, and that is never a great beginning for the campaign season.
Enter the Koch brothers, David and Charles, the offspring of one of the founders of the John Birch Society. They are both extremists, far to the right of anything America has ever embraced or even remotely accepted, but they do have one thing going for them – they are rich.
Not just rich, but ranked #4 on Forbes Magazine’s list of the wealthiest Americans, with a combined net worth of $62 billion.
The Koch brothers had an idea, and certainly the money to back it. They hired Dick Armey, head of Freedom Works, to create a fake grassroots organization called the Tea Party. They recognized that there was a faction of society that was uninformed to the extreme, frequently ridiculed and discounted for their ignorant, ultra-conservative views, but had one valuable attribute. They were easily manipulated. It was that group they targeted and tapped into to bring the energy back to the Republican Party.
For the first time in our nation’s history this faction was given a voice for their absurd views, and placed in an elevated position of influence. They were, and remain oblivious to the point they’re following the directives issued by the Koch Brothers through Dick Armey.
They attempted to control the public debate on a host of issues. That forced John McCain, who had been a moderate during much of his Senate career, to adopt positions that were foreign to him, against his own long established record, if he was to have any chance of winning Republican support.
It didn’t play well, and America rejected him and his newly adopted “positions.”
We can thank George W. Bush for that one.
Then in 2012, again the only energized faction of the Republican Party was The Tea Party element. Although in a distinct minority, they were rabid, hardcore, vocal and energized.
One more time the Republican Party failed to produce a crop of quality candidates, and went through an elimination process of discarding who they liked the least, instead of being genuinely excited about a contender.
When the dust settled, they were stuck with Mitt Romney. He came with so much baggage Republicans almost gagged on his nomination. For starters, he was a moderate and the Tea Party can’t tolerate moderation. He belonged to a “cult religion.” He was mega rich himself, and paid a lower tax rate than the middle class. He’d shipped American jobs overseas. He’d created the model that became ObamaCare.
On and on, but that’s who they were stuck with and the rank and file Republicans again were demoralized.
In order to tap into the only faction of the Republican Party with any energy, Romney had to try to morph himself into something he wasn’t, a Tea Party conservative. He constantly made a fool of himself with his flip-flops on position after position to try to appeal to the uninformed Tea Party.
That wasn’t working, so his campaign added in a “tell a lie a day” plan, even announcing they weren’t going to let fact checking dictate to their campaign.
It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was the best they could come up with, and in the end it failed.
We can, once again, thank George W. Bush for that one.
The 2012 presidential election is over, and there are challenges ahead for the Republicans. The man with the second toughest job in America is John Boehner, speaker of the House. Although in the majority, he presides over a dysfunctional, divided Republican Party.
In one camp he has the largest group, which are conservative, but moderate Republicans possessive of the knowledge that politics is a system of compromise. Then he’s got the much smaller Tea Party faction, painfully uninformed, but guided by one single motive, say “NO.”
Absent of progress in the Republican-controlled Congress to actually address the problems facing our nation, Boehner is keenly aware the national disapproval rating of the Republican Congress standing at a pathetic 17% will slide down even further.
So his task is to find a way to overcome the rapid, obstructionist views of the Tea Party caucus, and attempt to actually accomplish something beneficial for America.
His challenge is like trying to herd cats, and it won’t take us long to see if he is having any success. If he fails, when 2016 rolls around it’s an almost certainty we’ll see a repeat of 2008 and 2012. History does repeat itself.
We can thank George W. Bush for that one too. He’s the gift to the Democrats that keeps on giving.
– Kenny Belford lives in Tulsa, OK and is an occasional contributor to The Oklahoma Observer