The Corner

Say It Ain’t So

Stop-press news item of the day: 

Eric Fehrnstrom, top strategist for Mitt Romney and U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, told the Herald he hasn’t “even thought about what’s next” career-wise after a bruising double-barrel loss in two of the nation’s most closely watched contests — but those close to him say he’s taken the defeat hard.

“I’m taking some time off over the holidays and spending it with my family,” said Fehrnstrom, who dismissed chatter that the high-profile defeats would tarnish his, or his consulting firm the Shawmut Group’s, reputation. “I’m proud of the role the Shawmut Group played in helping Gov. Romney win the Republican presidential nomination and in Scott Brown’s historic 2010 special election.”

But hey — why let a little thing like two devastating losses in the most important election since 1860 get you down? November 6 was just another day in the lives of the GOP’s krack kadre of kampaign konsultants who — as Pat Caddell points out here — have now lost four of the last six presidential elections, essentially by running the same candidate (wealthy scion of the Republican establishment with zero personal downside to a loss) over and over again, and expecting a different result. 

Fehrnstrom, a former Herald reporter who soared to instant fame as the man who helped engineer Brown’s upset 2010 win, has laid low since both clients suffered defeat on Nov. 6. Although he was expected to discuss the campaign in a forum at Harvard University on Thursday, the forum was canceled because of the blackout, his Twitter account has gone silent since Election Day, and he has rarely commented for post-election stories.

But not to worry — like the rest of his cohort, he’ll be back to etch another sketch down the road.

Or maybe not. As John Fund points out here, conservative donors are starting to get restive with the GOP status quo, and are openly threatening to bypass the usual wallet-draining dinosaurs in favor of more nimble mammals who understand the evolutionary nature of the fight:

Many of [Lindsey] Graham’s fellow Republicans respond that becoming what Newt Gingrich once called “tax collectors for the welfare state” was both bad policy and bad politics. Senator Jim DeMint, Graham’s South Carolina colleague, warns that “if there is a bad deal, I just think you’re going to see conservatives around the country coalesce around better candidates, better-trained candidates, and to recognize the Republican party needs to reflect more conservative principles.” He told The Hill that he knows a lot of conservative donors who have already stopped giving to official Republican groups and are instead sending money to the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, or DeMint’s own Senate Conservatives Fund.

It’s unclear just how much attention the letters sent to GOP leaders will get in the rush to avoid the fiscal cliff. But Republicans ignore the message at their peril. The last election showed that many GOP donors are now comfortable with contributing to non-party groups. Tea-party activists are often proud to highlight their independence from the official GOP structures of authority. 

Meanwhile, Caddell — who was right about Romney all along — issues this jeremiad:#more#

If present trends continue, the Republicans will likely soon fall out of political viability; and the Grand Old Party will be the Grand Defunct Party. They are well on their way to becoming the 21st Century incarnation of the Whigs.

Let’s consider: At the national level, Republicans have lost four of the last six presidential elections; if one measures the popular vote, they have lost five of the last six. Indeed, over the last six elections, the GOP has averaged approximately 44.8 percent of the popular vote, whereas the Democrats have won 48.8 percent. And the disparity in the electoral college is even more telling: Republicans have won an average of 211 electoral votes over the last six elections, while Democrats have won 327.

These are trends that transcend any one candidate, and any one election. Meanwhile, the Establishment Republican party seems uninterested in learning anything about why they really lost; the goal of DC Republicans today is the generation of conveniently self-serving excuses.  

In 1968, the “youth of America” took to the streets in Chicago at the Democratic national convention to protest LBJ’s Vietnam War and, in addition to getting their heads split open by Mayor Daley’s cops, brought down Johnson’s veep, Hubert Horatio Humphrey; four years later they completed their swift forced march through the institution by nominating George McGovern. They lost that one . . . but today Barack Obama is president of the United States.

The Tea Party and other dissident groups just itching to demolish the sure-loser Washington Generals party of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are too decent to emulate their counterparts on the left, but their goal ought to be the same. As Caddell points out:

It’s worth recalling that there was a Whig president, Millard Fillmore, sitting in the White House on March 4, 1853. And yet within one presidential election cycle, by 1856, the party was dead. So the Republicans need to understand just how quickly political extinction can happen. 

Let’s see if Darwin’s theory applies to the Stupid Party.


Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.


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