The Corner

GOP Tired Of Winning Battles But Losing War

Byron York:

I just got off the phone with a very plugged-in Republican strategist who told me that Republican reaction to President Obama’s speech, which the party will roll out in the next few days, will mark the beginning of a new GOP approach to opposing the president’s initiatives.  (No, Bobby Jindal’s ineffective response was not part of that new approach — everyone seems a little embarrassed about that.)  The Republican leadership in the House has concluded that in the stimulus debate, the GOP succeeded in dominating a number of news cycles but failed to score any points on actual policy.  That, the leaders believe, has got to change.

“You’re seeing a major doctrinal shift in how Republicans are going to focus all these debates,” the strategist told me.  “The key is to focus on winning the issue as opposed to winning the political moment.  If you win the issue, people will think you are ready to govern.”

I asked him to elaborate a little.  “With the political moment, it’s how can you find the one thing that gives you the momentary upper hand in terms of the coverage for the next six hours — as opposed to engaging the electorate in creating a structural change in their opinion on which party is better able to handle an issue.”

During the stimulus debate, the strategist argued, Republicans had an actual alternative but were unable to direct much attention to it — in part because they were focusing so much of their rhetoric on the massive and unnecessary spending in the bill.

All I can say is it’s about time they figured this out. While wasteful spending should be highlighted, but spending too much time talking about field mice in relation to an $800 billion bill isn’t helping.

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