NY Times Goes Catty, Conspiratorial: GOP 'Elites' Huddle on K Street to Nominate 'Dweeb' for 2012

Republican “Dweebs”? So much for the new tone. Jonathan Chait, a sarcastic and partisan writer (and admitted Bush-hater) for the liberal New Republic magazine, has the first story in the latest edition of the New York Times’s Sunday magazine: “The G.O.P.’s Dukakis Problem -- Why Republicans will nominate a dweeb to run against Obama in 2012.”

Coming from a writer for a magazine that pitches itself as liberalism for grownups, Chait’s argument is surprisingly unsophisticated and conspiratorial. Yet it was apparently pleasing enough to lead off this Sunday's edition of the newly revamped Times magazine.

The Republican Party’s presidential-nominating process has always been run by elites. Oh, the voters have their brief moments of triumph, hoisting up an unelectable right-winger (i.e., Pat Buchanan) or an uncontrollable moderate (John McCain, the circa-2000 version). But the establishment always wins. Meeting in their K Street offices and communicating through organs like George Will’s column and National Review, the main financers and organizers settle upon a useful frontman, a reliable vessel for the party’s agenda who -- and this is the crucial part -- is blessed with the requisite political talent. Democrats have been known to mess that last part up and nominate a dweeb, but Republicans have generally understood that an agenda tilted toward the desires of the powerful requires a skilled frontman who can pitch Middle America. Favorite character types include jocks, movie stars, folksy Texans and war heroes.

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Now here is where the story gets strange. The candidates they are recruiting make Michael Dukakis look like John F. Kennedy. They are qualified enough to serve as president, but wildly unqualified to run for president. One way to put this is that most powerful people in the G.O.P. have suddenly gone idealistic. Another way to put it is that they’ve lost their minds.

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The answer to that question is Jeb Bush. Naturally, Republicans are courting the brother of the former president as well. Now, the ex-governor of Florida does have a great deal of natural political talent, but he suffers from an inherent branding challenge. Imagine ad firms trying to persuade consumers to give “Spoiled-Brand Milk” or “Kamikaze Airlines” a try. You would insist they just change the name, right? Bush can’t do that.

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And then, finally, there is Haley Barbour, the Mississippi governor. Barbour is somewhat slimmer and considerably nicer than Christie. A former tobacco lobbyist and occasional pre-civil-rights-era nostalgic, Barbour is the comic embodiment of his party’s most negative stereotypes. A Barbour nomination would be the rough equivalent of the Democrats’ nominating Howard Dean, if Dean also happened to be a draft-dodging transsexual owner of a vegan food co-op.

Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center . Read more: http://archive.newsbusters.org/bios/clay-waters.html#ixzz3CdgxLFgQ