On Rick Perry, the Consultant Class, the Press Corps and Getting To The Big Boy Debates

Given my freely shared, admittedly unsympathetic, opinion of Rick Perry’s 2012 outing, RedState veterans may be surprised to find that he is still my first choice for the 2016 nomination. Actually, he was my preferred choice – far ahead of Mitt Romney, who was my second choice – for 2012; I was one of thousands punching the air in joy when he announced in August 2011.

Then came the debates – which, according to his campaign gurus, all experts, mind you; Dave Carney, Rob Johnson, Joe Allbaugh, Wayne Hamilton, etc. “do not matter” – and they continued to “not matter” until they took down Perry’s hopes of taking the Oath of Office in January 2013. Well, it’s 2015 now, and our newly bespectacled Rick Perry is now recovered from his back surgery, no longer faced with having to govern the state of Texas, and ready to run again, free from encumbrances.

I firmly believe he deserves a second look by the Republican base – running the second largest state of the union during which it became the nation’s economic powerhouse is not a record to be ignored. Especially when you consider that he was Governor for 14 years, meaning that his stewardship coinciding with Texas’ prosperity is no fluke. And even if the argument is made that the Lt. Governor is more powerful in Texas, well, he has served as Lt. Governor. And better yet, he is a 5 year veteran of the United States Air Force. There is no one running for the nomination right now who does not harbor some envy of Perry’s political record and biography – minus 2012, of course.

The only problem? He’s still listening to essentially the same advisers and consultants (different individuals, yes – but the exact same mindset), armed with the same combination of arrogance and ignorance, offering the same bad advice and utilizing the same stupid strategy lacking any form of originality or imagination that guided him to disaster in 2012. As an example, the utterly disastrous, incompetent, backstabbing Steve Schmidt of the tragic farce that was the McCain campaign of 2008 is part of his campaign – a sure sign of a political campaign designed to fail.

Newt Gingrich has been saying it for years; the GOP’s political consultant/operative class harbors some of the stupidest, most ignorant and arrogant people operating in politics. The vast majority are the quintessential, effete duckfaced limp-wristed social-climbing faux-sophisticate poseurs the base imagines them to be, far more interested in getting invited to the right parties and giving friendly interviews to the New York Times than they are in getting their principals elected and their claimed principles enacted into policy.

A few years ago, I read a profile of one such political adviser to Republicans on the Hill – and he proudly boasted to his liberal interlocutor; when he gets to work, the first thing he does as he drinks his latte is reach for his copy of the New York Times and the Washington Post. Then he goes online and reads the latest on the Huffington Post, Politico and Slate. Please note that this is a Republican political adviser – proudly saying that every single news source he reads every morning to inform himself of what’s going on in the world, that greatly influences the work he produces for his clients, are all on the Left.

This is someone who advises Republicans on political and campaign strategy … and he has absolutely no connection whatsoever to the party rank and file, and very clearly could not possibly care less what they think and how they perceive what’s going on. And he’s supposed to be an expert – and, what’s even worse is that he is far from alone. A recent demonstration of this utter disconnect between the Republican consultant class and the Republican rank-and-file is Frank Luntz having absolutely no idea (“My legs are shaking!”) that Republicans were not happy with the Republican leadership in Washington.

What this betrays is that Frank Luntz has not actually spoken to another Republican outside the Beltway (or Acela Corridor) bubble in almost two years – and he also doesn’t read any Right-leaning news sources, journals, magazines or blogs.

Rick Wilson penned an article at The Federalist titled “A Field Guide To Acela Republicans”, identifying one trait of the Acela Republican as holding the incomprehensibly stupid belief that the New York Times endorsement is up for grabs. One would think this is an exaggeration – that there is simply no way anyone plugged into American politics, especially an “expert”, could possibly think the New York Times would endorse a Republican – then you come across Matthew Dowd in an interview with, of course, the New York Times, warning Republicans that; “You don’t want to lose Jorge Ramos.”

Which brings us to Donald Trump, and back to Rick Perry and his 2012 campaign.

The average low-level conservative blogger or commenter instinctively knows that Trump’s kicking out of a rudely lecturing Jorge Ramos from his Press Conference is going to grow his support in the GOP Primary electorate. For the typical Republican campaign consultant, like the people who ran the McCain campaign in 2008, and the Romney campaign in 2012, more attuned to the sensibilities and prejudices of the sniffing crowd at the Beltway cocktails they struggle to attend, and having convinced themselves that the preferences of the newsrooms of the New York Times and Washington Post accurately reflect that of the American people at large, the five point jump in Trump’s lead would be a complete surprise.

This, by the way, explains the difference in behavior between the McCain and Romney campaigns during the primaries – where no quarter was given and no attack was deemed over the top, and the general election campaign where the punches were always pulled and every other day was spent admonishing their own supporters for being too enthusiastic. The reason for this is simple, the Beltway cocktail set – especially those members in journalism – are quite happy to see Republicans attacking each other and are very much unhappy to see Republicans attacking Democrats. And the GOP consultant class is only too happy to cater to the Beltway crowd’s preferences – lest they find themselves excluded from the wine-tastings along with the hoi-polloi.

Perry came into the 2012 campaign with his guns firmly aimed at the guy at the top of the polls – Mitt Romney.

He is repeating the same thing now with Donald Trump.

And of course, he is trailing in the polls. Badly. Because he is attacking the wrong target, and worse, his “experts” haven’t a clue why what they are advising him to do isn’t working. Or, maybe they do know, but they have become too compromised to effect the necessary changes needed.

Either way, Rick Perry needs to jettison his consultants; starting with Steve Schmidt – whatever he is doing, another person can do it and do it better. Second, rather than a primary target at this stage, he needs to make Trump a non-issue in his campaign.

His first and primary target should be the Press – because no matter how much the base despises [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ], [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] and crew, it pales before the white hot hatred Republicans have for the media. Nothing, absolutely nothing would make him more popular with the Republican base that he needs to win him the nomination. The great thing is that the current coordinated blackout of the Planned Parenthood videos presents a fantastic launchpad.

While remaining engaged – no boycotts of any network or outlet, please – attack them loudly and often for their partisanship and hypocrisy, on an individual and institutional level – Chuck Todd is a partisan hack with a history of serving in Democratic campaigns, why shouldn’t that be brought up? Why is it so outlandish to respond to a New York Times editorial in a similar tone? Harshly question their integrity and highlight their arrogance at every turn, accuse them of coordinating and tailoring their coverage of the issues with the Obama White House, liberal groups and the Democratic National Committee. Highlight the highly incestuous relationship between Democratic politics, liberal interest groups and the media i.e. this person working at ABC is married to this person working in the Obama White House. Clearly and unambiguously identify the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN as clearly partisan networks working hand in hand with the Obama White House – if challenged, make an issue of their staff and owner campaign contributions.

Throughout, Rick Perry should announce that as President he would use the office to do absolutely nothing about the media’s corruption and partisanship. “I believe in freedom of speech, and that means that I believe that the New York Times should be free to be the partisan, dishonest newspaper it is today.”

By the way, remaining engaged does not mean you cannot throw out rude filibustering jerks and deny them rides on your campaign vehicles

The secondary target should be Barack Obama, the same way the Obama campaign made it all about George W. Bush in 2008 – Obama’s record, his blatant lies, the utter lawlessness of his administration. This actually means a return to the primary target. Let’s be honest here, an attack on Barack Obama is going to be seen as an attack on the Press, especially by journalists, not just because the bulk of journalists are more loyal to Barack Obama than they are to the nation and therefore would naturally perceive an attack on him as an attack on them personally, but because Barack Obama would be nowhere without that loyalty. Barack Obama’s deliberate lies about Obamacare, lawlessness on immigration, woeful jobs record, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, failures with the VA, deliberate fanning of racial discord and massive misjudgments on national security and foreign policy issues should have seen his approval ratings fall to the teens, were it not for a Press Corps that says; “The buck stops over there!” and buries the story soon after when it would have kept them in the headlines for weeks on end if the President were a Republican.

There would be outrage, demands for apologies and the usual spurious sympathy-seeking claims of receiving death threats. The consultant class would pitch a fit as their cocktail party invites dry up. Davids Frum and Brooks would be brought forward to obediently sniff about how declasse and unsophisticated it is to attack the paragons of virtue that is the Press Corps. Liberal journalists would ominously intone about the threat to the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press a Rick Perry Presidency would be.

But his next debate appearance would be in Prime Time.

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