Inside the Beltway ‘Wisdom’ Isn’t So Wise

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by Editor Chuck Norton

Sometimes beltway wisdom can reflect certain truths not apparent to many nice folks in “fly over country”, but often the beltway wisdom caters to government largess and the message can be sold to large donors and bundlers.

Inside the beltway, insiders from both parties treat small government conservatives as “extreme” because all of them make their money from government largess either directly or indirectly.  There are also factors that swing the public that those inside the beltway never get exposed to. The greatest example of this was in 1976 and in 1980 when “insiders” believed that Ronald Reagan was a joke, a stupid B-movie actor whose eloquent speeches about the dangers of communism, socialism and collectivism should have went out with the 1950’s. Now those same pundits claim to be the very fathers of his success. While some of the names of the insiders and pundits have changed, the beltway mentality has not.

Please examine these comments from the insiders poll at National Journal and enjoy my comments which will appear in red.

National Journal:

The Gingrich Moment has yet to catch on with National Journal‘s Political Insiders. Despite former House Speaker Newt Gingrich‘s surge in the Republican presidential nomination contest, overwhelming majorities of both Democratic and Republican Insiders still say former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has the better shot at beating President Obama in 2012.

[This is what the left and the elite media say. They said the same thing about McCain and Dole. The elite media is essentially the Democrat media complex, so if Mitt Romney is so much of a threat why are they avoiding piling on and trashing Romney like they have the other candidates? In each case where the most “moderate” candidate was considered the most electable the Democrat campaigned to the right of the GOP nominee and won. When there is a bold difference between the two candidates the conservative Republican wins.

Some insiders know this and are simply rooting for the two candidates who are most likely to guarantee continued government largess. Other insiders start out with the best of intentions, but end up adopting the very mentality that they came to DC to change in the first place. Having been to DC events I can tell you that the temptation to meld in to that mentality is highly seductive. Make no mistake, the media and the White House want to run against Romney and several White House staffers have let that leak out. They believe that the same strategy the GOP used against John Kerry in 2004 can be used against Mitt Romney. They also believe that Obama can fool voters by campaigning to the right of Romney’s record. They will say that Romney talks like Reagan, but governed like Dukakis. Obama will also run against what he will describe as a namby-pamby do nothing Congress that talks about grandiose reforms but ends up with a schizophrenic big government record like Romney’s. ]

For some of the Insiders, Romney’s well-oiled campaign and potential for moderate appeal gave him the edge.

[The well oiled campaign with huge state machines is not as overwhelmingly effective as it used to be for two reasons.

The first reason is that with the power of the internet and multiple 24 hours news channels voters have more unfiltered access to information and the candidates. Herman Cain had almost no ground machine to speak of, and the truth is that if it weren’t for his repeated stumbling when it comes to basic foreign policy questions and messaging, he would still be the front-runner. The allegations of sexual harassment by women, all of whom have direct ties to David Axelrod and the Chicago Democrat machine were so transparent, that most people were not swayed by them. The fact that the Cain allegations didn’t stick in spite of a massive elite media campaign to try to make them otherwise is yet another indicator of just how powerful new media really is (note, remember when Cain was asked if he would take a lie detector test about the allegations and he said yes? Only local media shared the results).  A wealthy massive machine is no longer necessary to get a message out.] 

“He [Romney] almost beat a liberal icon in a blue state and went on to win the governor’s race,” said one Democratic Insider. “He is a very strong general-election candidate.”

[And Newt nationalized a mid-term election, brought in a GOP majority in the House for the first time in 40 years, cut taxes, balanced the federal budget, created a surplus, and passed welfare reform with a Democrat President, yet our Democratic insider knows that. Also, since when has Massachusetts ever been a political gauge for the rest of the country? ]

“Mitt Romney is better positioned to speak to independent voters,” said another Democrat, “including key voting blocs like swing unmarried women.” A Republican strategist agreed. “Romney is more acceptable to moderate voters, especially female voters.”

[Nonsense. And this brings us to the second reason why massive state machines on the ground are not as effective as they used to be. Those machines were needed to get the attention of ordinarily more apathetic independent voters (and conservatives could not be more motivated already). Independent voters have been anything but apathetic since 2009.  Independents are engaged and informed in a way I thought I would never see again in my lifetime. They are also far from what beltway insiders would consider moderate. 

In questionnaires about civics and current events independents score almost as high as Republican voters, before 2009 they scored below Democrat voters.

In the 2009 state and local elections voters swung towards GOP/TEA candidates by 18 points in the key swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania. The independent voters in those key swing states were not energized by a “moderate message”. They were energized by the bold TEA Party message of Rick Santelli and Sarah Palin. In New Jersey the firebrand fiscal hawk Chris Christie was elected governor. 

In 2010 GOP/TEA Party candidates swept the elections in nine of the top ten swing states. For the first time since 1984 when Ronald Reagan won 49 states, traditionally independent and slightly left leaning voters such as women and Catholics voted Republican by big numbers. There is no way that anyone could say that they were energized by Mitt Romney or anyone like him. Florida, which Obama won, tossed out their own Republican Governor Charlie Crist who was a wishy-washy Mitt Romney like moderate, and replaced him with reaganesque Marco Rubio. Governor Crist tried to take the independent vote away from Rubio by running as an independent and guarantee the Democrats a win, but independent voters such as women and Catholics voted for Rubio by significant margins.] 

Other Republican Insiders named Romney as the stronger candidate, but couldn’t muster much enthusiasm about the prospect.

“Romney’s shape-shifting might not be appealing for conservatives in the primary, but he’s far more disciplined than Gingrich and is the only candidate that can win in November,” said one Republican.

[Romney is more disciplined, but not as disciplined as one might think, already since the debates started Romney has changed his messaging and positions. What is the bold Romney vision for America other than “I’m not Barack Obama and don’t I look sweet on TV? Also Newt has come back from the early missteps in his campaign with a new discipline and has avoided his previous academics ways of getting himself off message with excessive nuance.]

“Mitt Romney will be hard to hate in the general for the same reason he is hard to love in a primary,” said another Republican. “There isn’t much ‘there’ there, so the spotlight will gravitate to Obama. Romney makes it a referendum on Obama; Gingrich makes it a choice.”

[Indeed, 1980 could have been a referendum about Carter, but Ronald Reagan went out of his way to make it a choice. Gingrich gives you something to vote for.]

Concerns about Romney’s charisma led a small number of Insiders on both sides of the spectrum made the case for Gingrich as the stronger Obama opponent. “Romney seems like he is the most formidable on paper and in debates,” said one Democrat, “but the American people will struggle to take to him, just as the Republicans are struggling to take to him.” “The president’s money will dwarf ours,” warned a Republican strategist. “So our candidate must frame his message more clearly and forcefully. That’s Newt’s strength and that’s Romney’s weakness.”

[Hey someone in DC is thinking! Obama and his team led by David Axelrod will try to mottle everything, change history, and make the facts into a soup until people don’t know what to think. Newt has the boldness and razor like clarity in his presentation that can cut through the nonsense.]

Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham are for Mitt Romney. Why?

Ann & Laura are singularly focused on Romney’s ability to speak and have been quite up front about this when discussing it.

I understand their point of view, but I do not totally agree with it. During the Bush administration while I was getting my latest degree at IU, I had to constantly defend what the administration was doing right because the administration made almost no attempt to articulate it themselves (with the exception of hiring Tony Snow).

This became very tiresome and was a reason why the GOP got pasted in 2006 and 2008. Since communication is the life of Ann and Laura (and it is my life too) I see how their point of view can be so unbalanced.

When George W. Bush was debating John Kerry can anyone honestly say that Bush dominated Kerry in any of those debates? Yet Bush still won convincingly.

The want to have Romney for the reasons stated is defensive in nature. Just as the Democrats picking Dukakis was defensive, picking Mondale was defensive, and picking Kerry was defensive. They were all picked because the Democrats “settled” on who they thought was “electable”. The GOP did this with Dole and McCain and today many “insiders” want to follow that line of thinking for 2012. Don’t be fooled.

Ann and Laura had a conversation on The Laura Ingraham Show and agreed that Mitt Romney will never be as conservative after the primary as he is now, and he will not be as conservative in the White House as he would be in the General Election. They both laughed and said how it will work out great for them because they will have yet another [liberal] Republican that they can make fun of for four years.

The state of the country is so dire that we no longer can afford the luxury of having a president talk radio can make fun of.