Quick background: you know who Mike Murphy is, even if you don’t recognize the name. He’s the guy who worked on McCain 2000 (and told McCain that he should go after evangelicals) and Lazio 2000 (and told Lazio that he should get in Hillary Clinton’s face). He’s the guy who couldn’t choose between McCain and Romney in 2008. He’s the guy who got caught on an open mike dissing Sarah Palin during the election itself*. And, of course, he’s the guy working for Jeb Bush now. And, apparently, he’s thinking of doing a scorched-earth strategy: “Murphy has been floating another tactical shift to potential supporters, suggesting that he might spend the bulk of the $75 million [of Jeb Bush’s campaign cash] to carpet bomb Rubio, Cruz, Carson, Christie—everyone but Trump.”
Dear Lord, give me strength.
There are two major objections that can be raised about this strategy (which is, by the way, designed to pit Jeb Bush against Donald Trump, in case you were wondering what the point was). The first objection? Well: it’s immoral as Hell, and just as cowardly. I’m not going to get into a long conversation about Donald Trump here (suffice it to say that I’ll never be on his Christmas card list), but if you think that he’s as grave a danger to the Republican party as Jeb and his crew apparently thinks Trump is then Donald Trump should be your first target, not your last. You see, people are not supposed to run for President of the United States because they think that they’re Greek demigods. They’re supposed to run because they honestly think that it’d be best for the country that they do. Deliberately attacking your candidate’s best primary opponents because you think that you can only win against the worst one says very little about those opponents, and quite a bit about your campaign’s lack of intrinsic self-worth.
And that’s the second objection: it’s not even going to work. I say this as a no-fooling social moderate squish: I don’t mind candidates who aren’t all that naturally talented at campaigning, but I can’t stand ones who are weak. This is a glaringly obvious confession of weakness: 75 million, and all Jeb Bush’s people can think of to do with it is to carpet-bomb people like Rubio or Cruz. I mean, obviously you have to take slaps at your primary opponents. That’s how the game goes. But 75 million can buy you one heck of a positive narrative, too**. If Jeb’s own team can’t come up with one, why should I take his candidacy seriously.
And, finally? The two objections above are why Mike Murphy shouldn’t do this thing. The reason why Mike Murphy is STUPID, and should not be hired in the future? Because we all read about this strategy in Politico. If you’re going to do something like this – if you’re going to disengage all the safety interlocks, chain down the pressure valve, and red-line the engines while queuing up “Sympathy for the Devil” on the MP3 player – then you don’t talk about it ahead of time. You don’t tell your friends, your rivals, your family; heck, you start sleeping on the cot in the guest room, on the off chance that you might start talking in your sleep.
God. I’m a stay-at-home father and an English major, and even I know that you keep your mouth shut when you’re about to do shenanigans. What is wrong with these people?
*Never talk freely while you’re wearing a microphone. NEVER talk freely while you’re wearing a microphone. Never ever ever. I don’t care if you were told that the mike wasn’t live. Always assume it’s live.
**It’s not like Jeb Bush didn’t have a good run as Governor of Florida.